Occasionally we receive an email from somebody complaining that we have cold-called them. One thing that we never do is cold call. The only people that we ever call are those that contact us first and have requested we call them back usually for advice or to start a claim, and so we decided to look at a few ways people can try to combat those that do participate in annoying and intrusive cold calling.
Before we look at how to combat cold calling about fictitious accident claims it is worth noting that not all cold calls are illegal. If you have agreed to receive marketing phone calls from a particular company they are quite within their rights to call as detailed in the agreement. The vast majority of companies will take you off their marketing list if you change your mind but there are some companies who push the boundaries and some that go way beyond the boundaries.
One type of cold calling which has been doing the rounds for some time centers around a fictitious car insurance claim amid suggestions that you or a loved one have been in an accident. As more and more people are spotting cold calls on their mobile phone and landline these companies are becoming ever more ingenious in their approach.
Getting You To Answer The Cold Call
In the marketing cold calling world once you have picked up the phone the hard part has been done and the next challenge is to keep you talking. We all recognise various numbers, various area codes and many of us will not pick up a phone call from a number we don’t know. However, many companies have found a dubious way to get around this!
Have you received a phone call recently which appeared to come from your local area (hence the local area code) yet on answering you find the company is nowhere near you? Companies are now able to redirect their phone calls via the Internet and using a system commonly in use in the cold calling industry they can pick up on your local area code and redirect their call. The reason they do this is because the vast majority of us will pick up a local dialling code number, perhaps we are concerned it is a loved one trying to get in contact or an important phone call that needs to be taken.
Spinning Dubious Stories About A Car Accident
Thousands upon thousands of people have received phone calls over the last few years regarding fictitious car accidents from which they “may be entitled to claim compensation”. As money is tight for many people, perhaps Christmas is on the way or they have bought into the compensation culture which has grown in the UK, the chance of cold hard cash can catch many people’s attention. However, when was the accident, who was involved, and what details do they have for your records?
No unknown third-party insurance company would ever contact you about a car accident involving you or a member of your family. While the cold calling company thinks they have your interest when you have picked up the phone call and listen to your potential compensation claim it is then time to turn the tables. If you haven’t already hung up the phone ask them for details, where and when, who was involved and why have they taken so long to call you?
The Story Begins To Unravel
If you start asking questions many of these companies will quote the data protection laws and perhaps suggest they are unable to confirm details at this moment. While some of these cold callers blatantly lie to get your details and never reveal who they really are there are others that are supremely confident they will talk you round, and will often give you their real contact details, once you begin to ask questions the majority will backtrack and hang-up the phone. There is no point in barring these Internet-connected phone calls because they will just use another number the next time, but take note of the company and their real contact details as they may come in very useful.
So what was the reason for the original phone call? To see if you have actually been in an accident of late and whether they can help – at this point they would focus on your real accident and dismiss the fictitious one. Compensation claims, court cases and time to build your case can lead to a handsome pay-out for the cold calling companies – although they are only doing it for you!
Knowing Your Rights
The Information Commissioner’s Office has a very interesting section on nuisance phone calls and what you should do to avoid them in the future. In summary, you have a number of rights with regards to third-party cold calling and if used correctly they can certainly reduce the problem.
Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
The TPS should be your first point of contact because by simply registering with this service you are confirming what you do not wish to receive live marketing calls. This is a central register of individuals that have opted-out which should be respected by all telephone marketing companies. If you register with the TPS you may need to wait 28 days before the system is fully up-to-date but you have (in theory) opted-out of receiving any live marketing phone calls.
Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS)
The CTPS is the corporate equivalent of the TPS and covers companies and other corporate bodies who wish to opt-out from receiving live marketing calls. In an environment where wasted time equates to lost revenue, the number of work hours wasted taking marketing cold calls can become expensive and tiresome, to say the least.
Check The Small Print
As we touched on above, many marketing companies have small print hidden away in their customer agreements which allow them to cold-call customers unless advised otherwise.
There has been a change in the law over the last few years whereby customers should opt-in rather than be forced to opt-out of such arrangements but this is not always adhered to. So, you should check the fine detail of any agreement you sign with third parties and opt-out of any areas which you find unacceptable.
While many of us complain loudly about marketing cold calls, how many of us actually check the small print before we sign a purchase order or new customer agreement?
Tell The Cold Callers To Take You Off Their List
While there are services to sign-up to and small print to check, you always have the overriding option to tell any cold calling company to take you off their marketing list.
Make a note of what you told them, when you told them and keep this to hand in case they call you again (maybe even send an email where possible). If they continue to call you and ignore your wishes to be removed from their marketing list they are breaking the law and you should report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Even though many marketing cold calls are perfectly legitimate and above board, many of us have experienced nuisance phone calls on a regular basis. Now there are options to remove yourself from live marketing call lists and you can report them to the authorities who have the power to hand out fines of up to £500,000. Indeed some companies have received even greater fines for continued contempt of the law and the wishes of the general public.