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Having fun with cold callers.

Cold-calling is a scourge and it’s only going to get worse –according to the Daily Mail.

The normally cheerful Mail is full of doom and gloom this week about unscrupulous companies selling details of your salary, pension pot and investment values.  Cold Call Image

This could lead to a deluge of unsolicited phone calls from potential scamsters trying to get you to transfer your pension. It’s a wonder any of us ever pick the phone up any more.

Apparently, though, according to the BBC website,  the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is taking these claims “very seriously” and could fine these companies up to £500,000. Ooooo.
How do they do it?

Some of the data, it is claimed has come from mortgage application forms and applications for ISAs – which may be illegal depending on which box applicants did or didn’t tick at the time – but a lot of information such as this comes from you yourself.

Have you ever filled out an online marketing survey or entered a competition. The vast majority are bona fide and governed by a code of conduct, as well as the law in some circumstances, which prevents companies from using this information for any other purpose. 

But again often you have to check the box that says ‘no third parties’ if you don’t this information can end up being sold time and time again and you have appeared on what the cold-calling industry calls a ‘Sucker’s list’ and hey presto the phone starts to ring.

How can you stop it?

Firstly, if you haven’t already, you can register your home, office and even mobile phone numbers with the Telephone Preference Service www.tpsonline.org.uk/. This says you don’t want to receive ANY marketing phone calls and you can report any company that does – a complaint that could eventually lead to the Information Commissioner.  Though this is a UK centric service and increasingly calls are coming from abroad. 

Secondly, there is a latent danger that these guys might get away with something but it’s nothing to worry about because, as I have written here before, your guardian is common sense.

Cold-calling forms get ever more imaginative; sneaky if you prefer and are expert at engaging you in conversation.
My favourites are the ones which start: “This is just a courtesy call.” What? You mean you’re not going to try to sell me ANYTHING. How dull.

With sweeping pension reforms coming into force in the next few days it is a fair bet that many of us will receive unsolicited phone calls seeking information and inveigling you to switch your pension cash.

Answer: Don’t. There’s plenty of free advice you can seek out. The Government’s Pension Wise service www.pensionwise.gov.uk or even Citizens’ Advice www.citizensadvice.org.uk are good places to start.

But I think the best weapon is to get a bit of your own back. Have some fun with them. Some of my best techniques are; criticising their sales techniques; patronising them: “Does your mother know you’re out?” for example, or simply leave the phone down on the desk and put the kettle on whilst they read through their nice long script. This is particularly fun when getting calls from overseas where the callers are so garrulous and determined that they will still be reading off their script several minutes later and costing their dubious employers extra pennies. The call then ends with a series of “hello? hello!? hello!?”s, before they hang up. And, whilst they’re reading their script to you, they can’t be cold calling anyone else, so you’ve done us all a great service.

By Stephen McDowell

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