Pension liberation or unlocking has been responsible for millions of cold calls and spam texts this year.
Official figures suggest 85% of people have at least one nuisance call every month – while the average is seven calls or texts and 8% of numbers receive 50 or more calls a month.
One victim harassed by calls has set up his home telephone number as a 0871 service that charges callers at the rate of 10p a minute.
Since installing the service a couple of years ago, Lee Beaumont, from Leeds, has picked up around £300 in charges from annoying callers.
His family, friends and welcome callers so not pay the charge as they have a direct landline, mobile or Skype connection, so only the nuisance call perpetrators are charged.
Lee’s tactic was revealed by Which?, which is running a campaign to cull the millions of nuisance calls made every year.
“It seemed that every time I sat down to watch the TV I would get a call about claiming for road accident or payment protection insurance,” Lee told the consumer watchdog. “I thought there must be a way to get back at the firms and came up with the 0871 number.”
However, regulators suggest that setting up a 0871 number is not the best approach to the problem.
Phone Pay Plus, the agency tasked with managing paid-for telephone numbers, said: “Premium rate numbers are not designed for this purpose and anyone using a number like this could be in breach of our code and could face fines.”
Fines for victims
Basically, the message from the regulator is that nothing can be done to tame the nuisance callers, but if a call victim takes action to deal with the problem, they could face fines for breaching premium number rules.
The problem is many cold callers move offshore and are outside the legal powers of Phone Pay Plus and other regulators.
One tip is if you see ‘international’ or ‘withheld’ or caller display; just do not answer the call unless you are expecting someone to phone from overseas.
Besides nuisance callers, many government agencies, like HM Revenue and Customs withhold numbers so callers are directed through call centres rather than giving a direct dial number, but they will write if they cannot get through.