Tech Talk: Happy endings

The �40 CPR Blocker stops junk calls before they reach you

The �40 CPR Blocker stops junk calls before they reach you

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Box could solve marketing menace, says David Behrens.

ONE of the drawbacks of having a phone in your home is receiving calls you don’t want – usually about payment protection insurance claims nowadays.

It’s estimated that 85 per cent of us have been on the receiving end of something similar in the last month alone, and we’ve nearly always hung up in a huff.

This wasn’t supposed to happen; an organisation known as the Telephone Preference Service was meant to stamp it out. The TPS was devised by the “direct marketing” industry (for which, read junk mail) as a half-hearted response to growing demands for regulation. The idea was that if you signed up, they would add your number to a “do not dial” list circulated to their members.

But the TPS is a miserable failure, according to the consumers’ organisation, Which?

Not only do they make it as difficult as possible to join, they’re also powerless to stop calls from companies who choose not to take any notice.

Which? wants the government to do something about it, but while they’re deliberating you can take the law into your own hands and stop junk calls from ever reaching your phone.

A £40 device called CPR Call Blocker acts as a middleman between the direct marketing industry and you, and hangs up on calls it thinks are unwanted, without you ever knowing. You plug it into your system, between your phone socket and the phone itself and then (in theory) forget it’s there. It comes pre-programmed with 200 of the most persistent nuisance perpetrators and also blocks calls from withheld and international numbers.

But there’s a catch: your phone line has to have Caller ID enabled, a function for which most providers charge a monthly fee. Your extension phones also have to be connected through the same socket, ideally through a cordless network.

The CPR blocker isn’t the only interception device available but it’s the cheapest I could find. It’s also not guaranteed to work on every phone line, but the distributors promise your money back if yours turns out to be one. It’s also worth noting that you really shouldn’t have to pay £40 to stop something that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. It’s like nailing your letterbox shut and then getting a bill for your trouble.

If you’d sooner pay nothing, it’s still worth registering with TPS at www.tpsonline.org.uk, and with their sister service, the Mailing Preference Service (www.mpsonline.org.uk). If your number’s still in the phone book, you might considering removing it – and whatever else you do, be wary of ever including your number on a web form. Unless you actually want someone to call you, enter a string of ones and zeros instead.

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