Most of us know the irritation of a nuisance phone call. PPI, personal injury compensation, market research surveys – whatever it is, it’s usually pretty annoying and invasive. Sometimes these calls can go on for months.

According to figures released earlier this year, the UK’s information watchdog receives a complaint about nuisance phonecalls every five minutes. Around 370 people a day complain about cold calls, more than half of which are automated. In the UK, it is illegal to make automated calls to people without their prior consent.

Nuisance calls can be more than just a nuisance for some. For the disabled and elderly it can be a task just to get up and answer the phone. Some complaints reveal shocking stories of cold callers asking to speak to deceased spouses and relatives. So what can you do to prevent these frustrating invasions of privacy?

Register for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

Anybody plagued by nuisance calls should register for this free service. Once you sign up, it becomes illegal for companies to call you up unannounced. The service is available for both landlines and mobile phones. Find out how to sign up and get started today. It can take around 28 days to become fully registered, but once you’re on the list you should see a reduction in calls. If calls are still coming through, simply tell them you’re on the TPS and they should hang up immediately and not call again. For an extra layer of protection, take your number off the telephone directory and become ex-directory.

Block Phone Numbers on Your Mobile

If you have an iPhone or Android, you can block numbers quickly and easily. On iPhone it is especially easy. Just press the green phone icon, tap the recent calls tab, find the phone number you want to block, press the info button, scroll to the bottom and press ‘Block this Caller’. No more nuisance calls!

Don’t Give Out Your Personal Information to Cold Callers  

Whatever you do, do NOT give out any personal information to cold callers. The worst possible scenario is that the caller is  a scammer looking to mine you for information. If you suspect you have been contacted by a fraudster looking for your personal information, report the call to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Action fraud shuts down around 80,000 illegal phone lines every year.

Call-blocking Apps and Gadgets

There are a number of products on the market that can help you avoid nuisance calls. Systems like trueCall enable users to put calls from family and friends straight through, while blocking unwelcome callers. trueCall asks unrecognised numbers to identify themselves before the call is connected, allowing you to monitor who gets through. Unfortunately products like trueCall can be a little expensive and can block calls that you might otherwise have wanted to take.

If you still can’t get rid of those nasty nuisance callers, contact the ICO on 0303 123 1113 to complain. The ICO has the power to fine companies and routinely does so.