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Dealing with nuisance phone calls

If you receive nuisance, malicious or fraudulent calls, this article will help you tackle them.

Criminal calls

If you're receiving calls of a threatening nature, such as racially motivated threats, or threats of bodily harm or sexual assault, consider contacting the police.

  • Fraudulent calls

    Fraudulent or ‘vishing’ calls attempt to gain your personal or financial details over the phone by pretending to be from an official bank or company.

    Common indicators of vishing calls
    The caller might:

    • Ask you for your card, account or personal details so that they can update their system or confirm your details for a competition you’ve won.
    • Advise you to download software onto one of your personal devices to fix a problem or to validate software you’ve installed. The software will be malicious and could either give partial or full control of your device to its creator, or damage your computer.

    What you can do
    Most companies warn that they don’t contact customers to request personal or financial details. If you receive a call asking for these details, end the call and contact the company directly using the phone number provided on their website, on official correspondence or in a telephone directory.

    Sky doesn’t request personal or financial details from our customers. If you receive a call claiming to be from Sky asking you to provide personal or financial details, please report it on Action Fraud’s website or call them on 0300 123 2040.

    Calls to 03 numbers are free for Sky Talk customers. If you’re not with Sky Talk, calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calls to 01 or 02 numbers and are included in your calls package. If you don’t have a calls package, charges may apply, check your provider’s tariff guide.

Nuisance calls

These are less threatening calls, such as sales calls or persistent wrong number.

  • Sales and marketing calls

    These tend to be calls that:

    • Only occur between 8am and 9pm.
    • Have a recognisable pattern when they’re received.
    • Have a delay of one or two seconds before the call is connected, followed by a click and then a message saying “number unobtainable”.

    There are two types of sales and marketing calls:

    Power diallers

    These are automated dialling systems used by call centres for sales or marketing purposes.

    The system automatically dials a number without an agent being on the line, and then connects to an available agent once the call is answered. If an agent isn’t available within a few seconds of the call being answered, the system disconnects the call. The system is likely to make repeat calls to the same number until a successful connection is made, which can result in persistent, short silent calls.

    Fax bureaus

    Some sales and marketing companies use automated equipment to attempt to send faxes without knowing which numbers are actually connected to fax machines. If you answer a call from a company using this equipment, you’ll hear bleeps, screeching tones and white noise when you answer. However, these sounds can also be caused by a computer modem or incorrectly installed microfilter – if you think this might be the issue, read our Fix problems with your phone article.

    What you can do
    If you’re able to speak to the caller, ask them what company they’re employed by and try to resolve the issue directly.

    If you wish to check or change your Sky marketing preferences, head to My Sky online and visit the sections under the Details & settings header, or please contact us.

    Alternatively, you can:

    Sign up with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

    If you’re concerned about unwanted marketing calls and want to opt out of receiving them, you can register your phone number with the TPS.

    Please note: registering with the TPS won’t guarantee stopping all unwanted calls, and doesn't cover:

    • International calls.
    • Market research calls.
    • Non-sales related calls.
    • Calls from companies to which you’ve already given your consent.

    It takes up to 28 days for your TPS registration to become effective, but if you’re still receiving nuisance calls after this period, you can make a complaint and let the relevant regulator take action.

    Report nuisance calls and texts to Which?
    Which? has created a free online tool that helps determine who you should report nuisance calls and texts to, and automatically issues a complaint on your behalf, subject to your approval.

    If you’re feeling harassed by nuisance phone calls and are a Sky Talk customer, please contact us.

  • Wrong numbers

    These calls usually occur when an individual dials an incorrect phone number, but these tend to be rare.

    If you’re receiving persistent wrong number calls, read the general advice below.

  • General advice for dealing with nuisance calls

    • Never state your phone number or name when answering a call.
    • If there’s no reply after giving a greeting, don’t say anything else.
    • If you’re initially asked for your phone number, first ask the caller what number they dialled or require.
    • Never give out personal details or engage in conversation.
    • Keep calm – some nuisance callers may want to gain an emotional response.
    • End the call immediately, or leave the phone off the hook and walk away for a while, then simply end the call without speaking or listening.
    • Use an answering machine to screen incoming calls, but don’t state your name or phone number in your recorded message. Never record a message saying you're currently away from home or on holiday.
    • If available, use 1471 to identify the nuisance caller’s phone number.
    • Press a digit on the keypad as if you’re attempting to trace the call, and make a comment about it as if you’re speaking to someone else in the room.
    • Record the amount and frequency of the calls to see if there’s a pattern.

    You can also:

    Opt to be unlisted or ex-directory

    If you choose to be unlisted or ex-directory, your landline number won’t appear in the phonebook. The change will take effect from the next published version.

    Activate Caller Display

    This lets you see the phone number that’s calling before you answer. For this feature to work, you’ll need a telephone that’s capable of displaying numbers on screen and an active caller display subscription service on your line.

    If you’re a Sky Line Rental customer with a Sky Talk package, Caller Display should already be active on your line. If it isn’t, read our Caller Display article.

    Block calls

    Sky Talk customers can bar up to 10 phone numbers using our Last Caller Barring feature.

    You can also reject calls from withheld numbers by adding our Anonymous Caller Reject feature to your Sky Talk subscription.

    Please note that these call features are optional extras. Charges for extra services are added to your Sky bill and can be viewed online or on your TV at any time. For a full list of our latest features and prices, please see our Sky Talk call features page.

  • Contact information

    If you’re still receiving nuisance calls after following the advice above, you may wish to contact a regulator. The guides listed below explain which regulators you should contact depending on the type of nuisance calls you’re receiving: