If you pick up the phone and hear a recorded message playing rather than a live person speaking, you have received a recorded message call, or ‘Robocall’. Most of us have received recorded message calls telling us that we have won a competition to go on a cruise, or offering us debt advice. Some of these sound very respectable - “We are calling from a government registered service …” and “This is a public service message …”.
Using recorded messages to make marketing calls is illegal, but if an overseas company calls you from abroad then their calls are not covered by UK law.
Recorded message calls give telemarketing companies a cheap way to contact large numbers of people. They can cost the call centre less than 10% of the cost of making the same call using a live operator. Scammers also like to use them because they can make large numbers of calls without having to invest in expensive premises.
Recorded message calls that are not for marketing purposes are legal, for example:-
- Some delivery companies use recorded messages to notify you when a large item such as a fridge is going to be delivered.
- Neighbourhood Watch schemes keeping people informed of local incidents.
- Recorded message calls that are carrying out genuine market research.
- Debt collection companies using recorded message calls to remind you about overdue payments - these are becoming an increasing problem.
Currently, so long as they are not marketing, companies don’t need to get your permission to contact you using recorded message calls, and you don’t have the right to opt-out of receiving them, however if you ask them to stop, most legitimate companies will respect your wishes.
Recorded message calls can be blocked using trueCall which allows you to specify that certain recorded message calls should be allowed through - for example, calls from Neighbourhood Watch. trueCall also keeps a record of every call you receive if you ever want to make a complaint against a persistent caller (perhaps a debt collector who is harassing you).