Bloctel ‘floptel’ as nuisance callers ignore watchdog

Three million people sign up for spam opt-out service but cold calls continue

22 November 2016
By Ken Seaton

Nuisance callers are getting round or ignoring the Bloctel telephone spam opt-out service despite three million people signing up in the first months.

Intended as a way for landline and mobile users to say they do not want sales phone calls, it has proved more a flop than a success as only 450 of the expected 1,000 cold-call firms have signed up to abide by its blacklist conditions.

Connexion readers say they have noticed little or no difference since signing up at www.bloctel.gouv.fr except for a rise in calls from ‘unusual’ numbers such as 09 and blocked numbers.

Readers also highlight new tactics where calls now often start off related to ‘authorised’ topics such as household renovations, energy surveys, alarm systems or purporting to be the ‘winner’ of a prize.

Others said they had blocked so many numbers they had run out of space while many were tired of ‘one-ring’ numbers that led to a recording pointing to a surcharge number.

There are no sanctions for companies not signing up to Bloctel but those making sales calls on the pretext of an ‘auth­or­ised’ call face a miss-selling charge and a €75,000 fine per offence.

People who continue to receive nuisance calls despite being signed up to Bloctel can report the incident but readers have complained that the website demands information that they may not have, such as company name etc.

The DGCCRF fraud squad has set up a website at www.33700.fr which may be easier to use to report scam callers as it asks simply for the number called, the number of the caller and if there was an attempt to push the user into calling a surcharged number.

Scam calls, where you are asked to call back on a surcharged number, are outside Bloctel’s scope and DGCCRF advises people to be wary of any four-figure number starting with a 3 or 10-figure ones starting 089.

While it costs nothing to take a call from such numbers it can be expensive to return a call so the fraud squad advises checking 33700.fr or the www.infosva.org look-up site for help.

The 33700.fr site does, however, show that Bloctel has had some effect as the number of reported scam calls has tumbled from 1.5million in 2015 to only 160,000 so far this year.

Commerce Minister Martine Pinville said in setting up Bloctel it would reduce nuisance calls but it could only work if people took time to signal any phone abuses.

That is difficult when companies use hidden telephone numbers or internet phone numbers to cover their tracks.

Taking the scam line further, there was even a rival site set up, Bloctel.me, that was based in Mauritius and charged a ‘token’ €1 to sign up... and then automatically levied a €69 frais de traitement fee. This had closed as we went to press.

Last word on this goes to reader Roger Bingham, who said he received “frequent calls from a clairvoyant! If she was any good shouldn’t she foresee our ‘Non’?”

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