Calling all mobile users... text 85095 to reduce nuisance calls

27 May 2016

Mobile phone users can send a simple text message to opt out of unsolicited sales and marketing calls from today.

The 'text-to-register' service, launched by the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)1 and Ofcom, enables mobile phone users to add their number to the UK's official ‘do not call’ database by texting ‘TPS’ and their email address2 to 850953.

It is illegal for organisations to make unsolicited sales and marketing calls to numbers registered with the TPS, unless they have a person’s consent to do so.

Raising awareness of the TPS

According to Ofcom research 4, only half (48%) of people familiar with the TPS are aware that mobile numbers can be registered, compared to almost nine in 10 (88%) for landline phone numbers.

This helps explain why only 2.9 million mobile numbers (around 3%) are registered on the TPS database, compared with 18.5 million landline numbers (around 85%).

By introducing the quick and easy text-to-register process, the TPS and Ofcom aim to raise awareness of the preference service among mobile users and drive registrations.

How ‘text-to-register’ works

To register, mobile customers simply text ‘TPS’, followed by their email address to the shortcode 85095. They will receive a text reply from the TPS confirming their number has been successfully added to its database.

Registrants should notice a gradual reduction in unsolicited sales and marketing voice calls after a few days, although it can take up to 28 days for the service to become fully effective.

A study commissioned by Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office found people registered with the TPS saw a reduction in the monthly volume of live sales or marketing calls received of around a third (31%). Registering with the TPS, however, does not prevent spam text messages.5

TPS-graphic4

John Mitchison, Head of the Telephone Preference Service, said: “Rogue callers operate illegally and against the interests of ordinary people.

“Texting will make it easier for people to register their mobile numbers on the TPS, which is the only official no-call list, and help us stamp out rogue callers once and for all by giving the Information Commissioner more ammunition to prosecute these cases.”

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom Consumer Group Director, added: “Many millions of landline customers already take advantage of the protection the TPS gives against nuisance calls, and we want to ensure it’s as easy as possible for mobile users to do the same.

“We encourage anyone who wants to reduce the number of frustrating and unwanted calls to their mobile phone to register with the TPS today.”

Baroness Neville Rolfe, Minister responsible for data protection, said: “Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant distress, particularly to elderly and vulnerable members of society.

“Government is committed to tackling this problem, and we have introduced a series of measures that have already seen record fines handed out to combat these rogue callers.

“This new service from the TPS and Ofcom will help protect people with mobile phones, making it easier for them to register via text and opt out of the call list."

Other ways to protect against nuisance calls

As well as registering with the TPS, people can tackle nuisance calls and messages in other ways.

Ofcom has the following five tips:

  1. Be careful who you give your contact details to, whether it's online, on the phone, or in person.
  2. Look carefully at any marketing ‘opt-in' and ‘opt-out' boxes. These boxes are often buried in the small print. If you don't pay attention to them, you could find yourself inadvertently agreeing to be contacted by companies you don't recognise.
  3. If someone rings and asks for financial information over the phone, such as your account details or PIN number, don't provide it.
  4. Talk to your phone provider to see what privacy services are available, and consider a call-blocker - though be aware, you may need to pay for these services.
  5. If you receive a nuisance call or message, make a complaint. Complaint information helps regulators take action against companies acting unlawfully. If the call is a live telesales call, an automated marketing message, or a spam text message, complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. You can report spam texts to your mobile network operator by simply forwarding the text to 7726. If you receive a silent or abandoned call, complain to Ofcom.

Ofcom's guides for consumers provide more information.

Notes to Editors:

1.The TPS is a service for consumers enabling them to opt out of receiving unsolicited live sales or marketing calls. The TPS keeps and maintains the register on Ofcom’s behalf. The Information Commissioner’s Office has lead responsibility for taking enforcement action against companies that call people registered with the TPS without their prior consent.

2.The TPS requires a registrant’s email address as a means of verifying their identity, should they need to make a complaint. 

3.The major mobile providers have informed us that consumers will not be charged for texting this number. Customers using Android devices may receive a text message warning them they will be charged.  The major mobile providers have assured us this will not be the case.

4">.http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/statistics/1530413/Consumer_issues_survey_Nov_2015.pdf (Q:23).

5.Text messages are defined as “electronic mail” under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and as such, they should not be sent without the prior consent of the individual subscribers. If consumers receive SMS marketing and have not given prior permission, they should contact the Information Commissioner's Office, which is responsible for enforcing these rules. Unsolicited text messages can also be reported to mobile providers by forwarding them to 7726.