Unwanted and Unsolicited Mail, Marketing and Telephone Calls

Marketing phone calls, unsolicited letters and email are legitimate marketing practices for many companies. Here is some advice on how to protect yourself from attempts to commit fraud.

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Marketing phone calls, unsolicited letters and email are legitimate marketing practices for many companies. However, silent phone calls and ‘junk’ mail can be misleading, a nuisance and distressing. They can also be attempts to commit fraud against you or obtain your banking or other details for ID fraud.

Silent phone calls often happen when a computer has dialed several phone numbers. Only the first person to answer is spoken to and the remainder of them receive a ‘silent call’. Often the call will be a competition or offer but it may be a message to call a premium rate number.

Never disclose security information to people that have called you.
Take their details and ring them back on the number that you have for them, shown on your bill or card.

Unsolicited mail should be treated with caution and never reply to something that you believe or suspect to be a fraud. Contact genuine organisations and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. When filling out a form, find out how the information is used. Consider opting out.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is the largest trade association for the marketing and communications sector. Their preference services block unwanted mail, telephone calls and faxes.

  • Register for the Telephone Preference Service online, or call 0800 398893.
  • The Fax Preference Service is on 020 7291 3330
  • Register for the Mail Preference Service online, or call 0207 2913300.
  • The Royal Mail delivers letters addressed to ‘the occupier’. These can be opted out of by emailing optout@royalmail.com or telephoning 08457 950 950.

Electoral Roll (Voters Register)

In order to avoid your electoral register details being publicly available on the web and to marketing companies, tick the box on your registration form to opt out from the ‘edited’ register.

Phone Calls and Call Costs

Unwanted phone calls can be much more than a nuisance and phone calls can cost far more than expected.

  • Do not assume that a telephone number identifies where the phone is. Fraudsters will use call redirect facilities to direct calls to other countries or mobile phones.
  • Call costs vary significantly according to the phone company and where the number the call is to.
  • Most price plans have a number of ‘inclusive’ calls but these are only to numbers beginning 01, 02 and the new 03 non-geographic numbers.
  • 0800 numbers are ‘freephone’ numbers on land lines only - most mobile operators charge your ‘’normal’ rate to call these numbers which can be 50p per minute.
  • 0845, 0870 and other numbers beginning 084 and 087 are ‘revenue sharing’ non-geographic numbers most commonly used by call centers anywhere in the world. The calls can cost as much as 10p per minute, with the company taking a share of the cost.
  • 070 numbers were designated as business numbers allowing calls to connect to people on the move. They are however, used frequently by fraudsters to avoid detection.
  • Calls to 090 numbers involve a payment; this can be up to £1.50 per minute. Many prize competitions ask for a ‘call back’ on these numbers at great cost to the unwary. The competition may be completely legal.
  • Alternative numbers to 0870, 0845 and other non-geographic numbers can be found on the 'Say no to 0870' site - see related links.

Check your bills regularly and understand the charges.