The tables have been turned on cold callers and overenthusiastic telemarketers by a Leeds businessman.
Lee Beaumont, fed up of being interrupted by marketing calls in his spare time, decided to take matters into his own hands. After registering a premium rate number, Beaumont added his new 0871 number to sign up forms with any online service or bank he used.
He warned any company he dealt with up front that it was a premium rate number and that if he was contacted, the companies would be charged 10p/minute.
Beaumont told BBC News that most companies he dealt with were happy to contact him on the premium rate line, adding that those who did not could instead contact him via email.
“I don’t use my normal Leeds number for anyone but my friends and family,” he says, adding “because I’m getting annoyed with PPI phone calls when I’m trying to watch Coronation Street so I’d rather make [some money].”
Beaumont makes 7p out of every 10p paid by people who contact him on the premium rate line. So far, he’s raked in roughly £300 worth of charges from marketing calls.
Premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus strongly advises against other customers adopting similar measures. Under a Code of Practice, operators of premium rate services have to be transparent about costs and state upfront how much a call costs and be able to handle complaints.
The regulator told the BBC: “Premium rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.”
As well as imposing fines on operators who do not abide by the code, Phone Pay Plus can disconnect premium rate lines and prevent individuals and companies from setting up similar services.
There are other ways to help cut down on spam calls that don’t see you having to resort to setting up a premium rate line. Hardware like the CPR Call Blocker and BT’s series of spam-slaying phones are effective ways in reducing the numbers of marketing calls you can receive, as is registering your landline with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
For mobile customers an easy way to cut down on repeat calls is to save the numbers of people who contact you, rename them something like ‘Do Not Answer’ or ‘Annoying PPI gits’ and then when they call again, never answer.