Cold Calls - A quick guide to preventing unwanted calls from direct marketing companies
All telephone users can register whether or not they want to receive ‘cold calls’ / ‘unsolicited calls’ to their phone
‘Cold calling’ is when a company calls you, without getting your permission, so they can try to sell you goods or services. An ‘unsolicited call’ means a call that is not requested by the caller. This is sometimes called ‘direct marketing’. It is easy and free of charge to make your preference known. You just need to contact your phone line provider - the company to which you pay line rental.
You should note that the Regulatory requirements in this area refer to direct marketing calls only, if a company contacts you for e.g. to ask you to take part in a survey, this is not prohibited.
How does the process work?
All phone numbers contained in public phone books or available through directory enquiries are held in a central record known as the ‘National Directory Database’ (NDD).
When you contact your phone provider to tell them you do not want to receive direct marketing calls, they will make sure that this is recorded in the NDD, the NDD also maintain the ’do not call’ direct marketing register. It will do this promptly, but if there are a large number of similar requests it make take up to five working days.
Direct marketing companies are required to purchase a copy of the NDD to see which phone numbers do not want to receive ‘cold calls’ and make sure that they do not call them . However, it can take up to 28 days after the information is recorded in the NDD for marketers to access the opt-out listing. This depends on how often they update their own listings.
If you have a fixed-line (landline) phone and you do not want direct marketing companies to call you, you should contact the company from which you rent the line.
If your telephone line is ex-directory you do not need to contact your phone company; your number will be automatically recorded as not wanting to receive direct marketing calls.
Mobile phone users
Mobile phone numbers are automatically protected from direct marketing calls by the E privacy regulations 2011. Direct marketing companies must have your prior consent before contacting you on your mobile.
If you want to allow direct marketers to contact you in this way, you can call your mobile service provider and ask that your number be made available to direct marketers.
What about unsolicited faxes?
Direct marketing companies are not allowed to send any residential customer a fax without getting their permission first.
Direct marketing companies can send unsolicited faxes to businesses. So if you are a business user with your fax number in the NDD (National Directory Database) and you do not want direct marketing companies to fax you, you should contact the company from which you rent the line. You should note that the NDD does not distinguish between phone numbers used for voice calls and fax machines as they can sometimes be the same.
The NDD does not include the full range of Direct Dial Inward (DDI) numbers that a business may use. These numbers usually just include the number of the main switchboard or the numbers that the business user chooses to have included in public directories. Direct marketing companies may choose to randomly dial DDI numbers, so their calls may be difficult to block.
What can you do if you receive marketing calls against your wishes?
Not all marketing calls fall into the category of ‘unsolicited calls’ or a 'cold call'. A business may contact you for marketing purposes if you are or recently were a customer. It can do this even if your number is included in the opt-out listing, unless you tell them that you do not want them to phone you. You might also receive a marketing call if you provide phone details to a company, for example by entering a competition, redeeming coupons or requesting a brochure. If you do not want it to phone, say that when you give your details.
If you get an unwanted marketing call from a business that you have had no prior dealings with, or to which you have not provided contact details, tell the caller you do not want to be contacted by that company again.
If you get the call more than 28 days after your details have been recorded in the opt-out register of the NDD, or after you have told the company in question not to contact you again, you may wish to complain to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. This office can investigate and prosecute the company if necessary.
The rules and Regulations regarding direct marketing calls do not extend to direct marketing calls from outside Ireland.
How can I contact the Data Protection Commissioner?
You can contact the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in the following ways:
By phone: Lo Call 1890 252 231 (Monday to Thursay 9.15 am to to 5.30pm & Friday 9.15am to 5.15pm)
By fax: 057 86 84757
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By post: Office of the Data Protection Commissioner
How can I contact ComReg?
By phone 01 804 9668 / *1890 229 668 (09.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday)
*(Calls to 1890 numbers from landlines are charged at a local call rate, charges from mobile phones may vary depending on your operator)
By email: email@example.com
By post: ComReg Consumer Team, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1
Our websites are: www.comreg.ie / www.askcomreg.ie / www.callcosts.ie
Contacting other Consumer Organisations
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ComReg prepared this material from a variety of sources. While reasonable care was taken to prepare it, ComReg does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage anyone may suffer by using any of this information.