You know how it is, you are in the garden and the phone rings. You rush up to the house, struggle to peel off your wellies and gloves. You slide through the house in stocking feet and grab the phone, only to hear an exotic accent ask you if you need a new boiler/solar panels/double glazing or if you have had an accident. (Well I nearly did rushing to the phone). Half an hour later it happens again.
Now for me, a cynical, reasonably fit, grumpy old man, it is extremely annoying. But to more vulnerable people, including elderly members of my family, this can be much more worrying. The silent calls make the recipients feel they are being spied on. And anyone responding favourably to calls is likely, at best, to be sold expensive or unsuitable products. And at worst to be subjected to convincing and plausible frauds. Age UK report 50% of elderly people (14 million in 2010) are subjected to frauds and scams.
I have tried for years to block such calls, the Telephone Preference Service is a joke and the line provider says there is nothing they can do. But at last I have found the answer – a new telephone, the “BT 8500 Advanced Call Blocker”.
Perhaps now is the time to say I have no connection with BT and no financial axe to grind. This is a normal cordless phone with built in answer phone and it works like this. Firstly you must have caller display from BT (there is a modest monthly charge). When someone calls you for the first time on this phone they are asked to give their name. BT then phones you and you are told who is calling and you get three options:
Press 1- you will speak to them this time (someone you are happy to speak to).
Press 2 -you will speak to them any time (your friends and family, reputable businesses).
Press 3 - you will block them (cold callers, fraudsters, etc).
Once you have approved your friends and family the first time they will get through straight away as normal without delay. With regard to cold callers, in practice you don’t need to block them as they just ring off when they hear the interception message.