What to do when you keep getting unwanted phone calls

Spam calls, whether they are from legitimate companies or scammers, have become an occupational hazard of owning a cellphone.

Unsolicited phone calls are on the rise around the world and are especially common in large developing markets like Brazil, India, and South Africa.

South Africans are some of the most spammed in the world, receiving an average of 21 spam calls on a monthly basis.

Almost half of these calls are scams or other fraudulent schemes looking to prey on gullible users.

If you are struggling with unwanted calls, there are measures you can take to defend against unsolicited contact.

Call filtering

Various regulations, rules, and authorities exist to attempt to control the use of direct marketing and its infringement on consumer rights – but as an individual you are usually best served by intervening yourself.

If you receive spam calls from specific numbers, it may be easier to use your smartphone’s built-in call blocking to block these callers.

A better solution to identify the legitimacy of unknown numbers calling you would be to download the TrueCaller app.

TrueCaller identifies and block spammers while also identifying the caller ID of private numbers.

The app has over 50 million users in Africa, with an increasing number of South Africans turning to it as a solution to incessant direct marketing phone calls.

TrueCaller is available for free from the Google Play and Apple Store.

Do Not Contact

There are also mechanisms in place to prevent unsolicited calls in South African law.

The Consumer Protection Act states it is illegal for companies to direct unsolicited marketing messages to consumers who have “opted out” of receiving them.

Opting out of direct marketing communications can be done through the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA).

This organisation operates a Do Not Contact (DNC) service and the National Opt Out Registrar, which users can register their details on to prevent being contacted by spam calls.

Once on this list, marketing agents affiliated with the DMASA are not allowed to contact you without permission.

Of course, this would not deter illegal scam calls – plus, there are other caveats.

Only DMASA members are bound by the DNC list and membership to this body is not compulsory for marketing companies.

Checking each entry in a database against the DNC service costs a fee, too, making it infeasible for large marketing companies to check their databases against this service every time they send out a message or begin calling people.

Regardless, it can be of benefit to add your contact details to the Do Not Contact service, as this may alleviate unsolicited calls.

What to say

On a case-by-case basis, there are also ways to prevent specific telemarketing companies from contacting you in future.

You can do this by invoking the right afforded to consumers by the Consumer Protection Act to opt out of direct marketing.

Upon being called by a telemarketing company or other unsolicited advertiser, consumers need to ask the caller to stop making contact with them or remove them from their database.

Companies are required to abide by these rules, which apply to all direct marketing companies operating in South Africa.

Now read: Fixed lines in South Africa – Broadband yes, calling no

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What to do when you keep getting unwanted phone calls