THE BLOG
28/05/2014 09:03 BST | Updated 28/07/2014 06:59 BST

Nuisance Calls Are Like Moles, Knock One on the Head and More Appear

The most bizarre thing just happened. I sat down to write this blog on nuisance calls, and I received a PPI text message.

"We have been trying to contact you regarding your PPI claim, we now have details of how much you are due, just reply POST and we will post you a pack out."

I wonder what would happen in I replied POST... Well, I'm never planning to find out, because the sender's digits were a private mobile number, which means it's spam. And the first rule of spam is: never reply to it.

For the record I never, ever given my number to anyone, other than friends and family. If I have to include a phone number when I fill in a form, I write my work mobile number down. So how spammers have got hold of this number is beyond me.

How do I deal with this text? I simply hit 'forward' and send the text to my network (Vodafone) using the number 7726, which cleverly spells SPAM on my keypad. Easy.

Until recently, I wasn't quite sure what forwarding all these texts to 'SPAM' did, but it seems it's helping the Information Commissioner's Office to identify the sources of spam attached and shut them down.

Only last week the ICO raided a 'SIM farm' in Wolverhampton blamed for producing millions of spam messages and the culprits are likely to be fined for their antics.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

What's also abundantly clear from recent news headlines is that this hardline approach to nuisance calls and texts can't come soon enough.

New data from Ofcom shows that levels of unwanted calls and texts to landlines have shown no year-on-year decrease. While PPI calls are starting to drop off, other types of marketing calls are on the rise.

Ofcom asked 1,266 people with home landline phones to keep a diary of unwanted calls received over a four-week period and found that, over the past 12 months, calls about home or loft insulation has risen from 2% to 8%, solar panels from 2% to 6% and other products related to home improvements from 3% to 7%.

So, essentially, unwanted calls are a bit like the whack-a-mole game - knock one on the head and another one appears.

The research didn't look at mobile phones but we all know the problem is widespread - whether it's silent calls and voicemail messages, spam texts, live or recorded sales calls.

In Ofcom's research, just 1% of all the calls received were described as 'useful', which begs the question: why do companies insist on using them for marketing purposes at all?

While businesses ask that question, what can the rest of us do?

Rule 1. Don't give out your number unless absolutely crucial, and if you do, tick or untick the box about your data being shared.

Rule 2. Register with the Telephone Preference Service to avoid telesales calls

Rule 3. Take note of the call date, time, number and the name of the firm, if you can get it, and make a complaint to the right regulator.

This page on the Ofcom website tells you who you should be complaining to.