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

We also look at what you should do if persistent calls continue

A photo of a man getting annoyed with a phone call
More rules have now come into force to limit cold calling during antisocial hours
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New laws have come into force in France to limit cold caller marketing, in a bid to stop salespeople from disrupting people at anti-social hours. We explain the new rules and what to do if calls persist.

From March 1, 2023, the rules stipulate that cold callers can only call:

  • Monday to Friday between 10:00-13:00 and 14:00 to 20:00

  • Four times maximum by the same professional within a calendar month

Calling at any other time, including the weekend and on bank holidays (jours fériés), is banned.

These rules apply to everyone, including those who have signed up to the Bloctel anti-calling list (see below), and those who have not.

If you ask not to be contacted for marketing purposes while on the call, then the company cannot call again for 60 days.

However, if you have given the company prior permission to call you, these rules do not apply, and you can be called outside of these hours.

The rules come into force after having been voted for on July 24, 2020, and listed in the Journal Officiel on October 14, 2022. They are aiming to fight marketing call harassment and fraud, without threatening the jobs of people who work in call centres.

Breaking these rules, which are outlined in article L. 242-26 of the consumer code, is punishable by fines of:

  • €75,000 for an individual

  • €375,000 for a company

What other rules apply for cold calling in France?

From April 1, 2022, companies have been required to ask for explicit permission from the would-be customer to continue the call.

They must also:

  • Not call back if the customer said no

  • Check that, if the person being called already has a contract for the product (such as insurance), that it can be ended in case of a new subscription

  • Send all documents about a new contract and check they have been received and agreed to before signing the customer up to a new contract

  • Wait 24 hours before signing a new contract with the customer

  • Receive an electronic or handwritten signature from the customer before signing (a spoken agreement is not enough)

  • Keep recordings of the call that led to the transaction for two years, to be used in case of contesting of the agreement, and ensure the recording is held securely

Breaching these rules can result in a fine of €1,500.

Telemarketing callers are also limited in the phone numbers they can use. Since January 1, commercial sales and marketing calls must now begin with one of the following numbers:

  • 0162 or 0163

  • 0270 or 0271

  • 0377 or 0378

  • 0424 or 0425

  • 0568 or 0569

  • 0948 or 0949

Commercial callers, sales reps, and telemarketing callers are not allowed to use any numbers that do not start with one of these four-digit combinations. The use of any numbers beginning with 06 or 07 is now also forbidden for call centres and commercial callers.

What is Bloctel?

Bloctel is a free service that allows people to sign up to 10 numbers that they wish to block from telephone marketing cold calls. The exceptions are if you are in the middle of a contract with the company, if the company is selling newspapers or magazines, or if the call is not trying to sell you anything.

However, many users have reported that Bloctel is not effective enough, which has partly led to the introduction of these new rules.

What can I do if I still get calls or a caller breaks the rules?

If you are signed up to Bloctel and still continue to get marketing cold calls, you can report numbers on the website, once you are signed up and logged in to your account.

Reports are sent to the fraud and consumer office, the DGCCRF, which will investigate and has the power to issue fines and other sanctions if needed.

You can also report call and SMS spam, calls that ask you to call back on an expensive number, or callers that abuse the new rules, to the service-public.fr government website here.

Some consumer associations, including UFC-Que Choisir, have said that these rules do not go far enough, and have called for a ban on all types of selling over the phone.

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