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Cold calls still blight residents in France despite change to law

Survey shows almost half of people polled in France believe they receive more cold calls than before the legislation was passed

An angry woman on the phone in a room with bookshelves

Laws were passed regulating cold calling in France but people have said they still find themselves receiving them Pic: Pheelings media | Shutterstock

Almost three-quarters of people polled in France are still cold-called once a week, a new survey has found. This is despite additional legislation limiting the practice having come into force in March this year.

The survey results, published by consumer magazine UFC-Que Choisir, showed that 72% of respondents are contacted at least once a week on their mobile phone by cold callers.

38% said they are still contacted on their mobile every day.

Texts and landlines

The numbers are not much better when it comes to text message-based cold calling. Just under half (49%) said that they receive at least one marketing text message a week, and 17% said they get one at least once per day.

58% reported being cold-called on their landline once a week, 41% every day.

Harassment high

The online survey - which interviewed 990 representative respondents between September 19 and 26 - found that despite the new legislation against cold calling and cold marketing, 48% of people feel they have been harassed more this year compared to last.

32% said they feel they are harassed just as much. Only 20% reported a reduction.

Unsurprisingly, people’s irritation with cold calling has not changed; 97% of those surveyed said they find it irritating, 77% said they find it “very irritating”.

What does the law say about cold calling?

The new legislation states:

  • Calls can only be made between 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-20:00 Monday to Friday
  • The same number can only be contacted four times within a calendar month
  • If you ask not to be contacted again during the call, the same firm cannot call you again on that number for 60 calendar days.

If these rules are broken, the French anti-fraud consumer agency DGCCRF has the right to investigate and fines can be issued for those who break the rules.

These can be as high as €75,000 for an individual caller, or €375,000 for a company. The government’s Economy Ministry has listed some recent fines on its official website here.

The new rules were intended to complement existing legislation, introduced last year, which requires companies to get explicit permission to continue a call, and which limits marketing companies to the use of specific prefixes when cold calling (to help them be identified).

Read more: Explainer: When and by whom can you be cold-called in France?

How to stop cold calls

If you wish to stop receiving cold calls, you can sign up to Bloctel, a free service that allows people to add up to 10 marketing numbers that they wish to block.

There are exceptions: if you are in the middle of a contract with the company, if the caller is selling newspapers or magazines, or if the caller is not trying to sell you anything.

If you are signed up to Bloctel and still continue to receive marketing cold calls, you can report numbers on the website.

Bloctel only relates to calls from marketers. There are other avenues you can try to stop other types of calls. These include:

  • Making a report to Commission Nationale Informatique & Libertés: CNIL is the French Data Protection Agency and you can report calls that come from automated services or those aiming to obtain data from you for fraudulent purposes. In the latter case, you can also report the call to police or the gendarmerie.
  • Flagging calls to SignalConso: For nuisance calls - for example, perhaps those trying to sell you energy renovation schemes - you can flag them to SignalConso, a service from the DGCCRF
  • Reporting the number to surmafacture.fr: When a number tries to get you to call back on a premium line, you can report their number to the consumer information platform.

Additionally your service provider (Free, Orange, SFR, Bouygues etc) may also provide free or paid services to limit the amount of cold calling you receive on your home landline.

Mobile phone service providers also often offer an app to help limit cold calls. You can also download third-party apps from your phone’s app store for this purpose.

You may wish to contact your service provider and ask them what specific tools they have available, or use your personal account space on their website to see what they offer.

Services may include signing up to a ‘red list’ to prevent your phone number from being issued to directories used by cold-calling companies.

Related article

How can I stop marketers cold calling me in France?

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