There are few things in this life more nigglingly inconvenient than a nuisance call. We’ve all been there before; just sat down to dinner when the phone rings and who’s on the other end? “Mr Nobody,” some poor college drop-out asking us to “Conduct a quick survey,” or a man with a strong foreign accent telling us there’s something wrong with our computers that only his (obviously malicious) software can cure. It might be a classic “First World Problem,” but that doesn’t make it any less infuriating.

So, you might be asking, is there anything I can do to stop these nuisance calls once and for all? There most certainly is. From going all out and purchasing a Pro Call Blocker, to simply filling out a few forms that’ll keep you off their radar. Here we’ll be running through a few top tips that should keep your phone-line free for people you actually want to talk to!

1. Ex-Directory

Many companies will simply use the phone book to find their targets, simply running a finger through the local directories and ringing everyone they find. This is a practice, which is especially popular with smaller, local businesses who can’t afford to buy call lists. Thankfully, it’s quite a simple process if you want to get your number removed from the phone book and there are few drawbacks to being unlisted.

2. The TPS

It is illegal for UK-based companies to make unsolicited calls to numbers that have been registered with the Telephone Preference Service, even if their call centre isn’t located in the country. Of course, just because it’s illegal, that won’t stop some companies from persisting, but many (especially larger companies) will leave you alone if you’re TPS registered.

It also won’t stop calls from companies based overseas, or companies where you have unknowingly “Opted in,” (they can be quite stealthy) but it’s free to sign up and it takes mere minutes, so there is really no downside to signing up. You can also sign up to the Mail Preference Service (or MPS), which is a similar service for avoiding unwanted junk mail.

3. Be Vigilant

When signing up to anything, be it online or via mail, make sure you read carefully before ticking certain boxes, which could result in your number being legally passed on to third parties. There are data protection laws in place to prohibit cold calls from certain companies if you haven’t signed off on it, but “Signing off on it” can literally boil down to leaving a certain box unchecked when entering an online competition or filling in a survey.

4. Just Ask

If you have been added to a company’s call list, it is well within your rights to contact them and ask to be removed. It’s a good idea to put your request in formal writing too, as companies will not always remember (or will try to forget) verbal requests.

5. Call Blocker

For less than the price of a cheap night out, you can order a Pro Call Blocker, which you can connect to your phone. These devices can be programmed with a “Blacklist,” so that anytime you are contacted by that number, the call is automatically blocked. These devices are easy to set up, affordable and completely customisable.

They can even be set to automatically block all unidentified (or “Withheld”) calls. If you don’t want to pay the extra for a call blocker, you could simply screen your calls and only answer numbers you recognise, but you’d still hear the phone ring.

6. Report

If you are signed up to the TPS and are still being hassled by cold called, report them. Make a note of the numbers (by dialling 1471 or checking your caller display), the times they have called and the frequency of those calls and report unwanted calls and scams to Action Fraud or Ofcom.

7. Call Barring

You should be able to contact your phone provider and set up a call blocking service for withheld numbers or calls that are coming from abroad. You might also be able to (depending on your provider) as a list of specific numbers to the service, though this will often be quite limited, so if there are more than 10 numbers you want to block, you might want to consider forking out for a call blocker.

8. Apps

If you’re receiving cold calls through your smartphone, there are countless apps available for iOS and Android systems that allow you to add numbers to a blacklist. It works in much the same way as a call blocker, only it is software, not hardware.

9. Hang Up

Don’t worry about coming across as rude, these people know what they’re doing is a nuisance. Don’t let them pressure you; simply tell them you’re not interested and that you wish to be removed from the call list. Then hang up. It’s that easy!