It’s 4:15 p.m. and your phone is ringing again for the third time this afternoon. You don’t even bother to pick up: it’s bound to be prospectors. Sometimes it’s fraudulent SMS, promising new vital cards and funded training, that flood your phones… It’s a fact: cold calling, whether it’s a legitimate business practice or a real scam, is sometimes a little too present in our lives. So much so that in France, one in five people do not answer phone calls from unknown numbers, according to an INSEE study published on January 24, 2022
It is in this sense, and to respond to the frustration of the French people, that the General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF), a governmental body, set up, as soon as 2016, the “Bloctel” system.
“Blocte is a public service concession aimed at combating abusive telephone canvassing, i.e. invasive and unwanted canvassing, by offering:
In short, all you have to do is register your telephone number on the service site, so that it is added to the lists of “forbidden” numbers, transmitted to companies, and thus, no longer being disturbed. But in practice, it is not so simple.
The Bloctel service has some limitations. And many registrants continue, very often, to be annoyed by canvassers.
Armel-Alexandre Plaud agrees. “Bloctel does not process canvassing by SMS or email,” he assures Planet. In addition, continues the communication manager, “The law authorizes various exceptions to the ban on cold calling despite registration on Bloctel.
The list of these exceptions is very precise: it concerns current contractual relations, the supply of newspapers, periodicals or magazines, non-profit associations, public services, or even research or polling institutes.
Moreover, insists Mr. Plaud, the lists are regularly updated. “Each telephone number entered is registered for a period of 3 years on the Bloctel list from its confirmation of registration. After 3 years, the registration of your telephone number must be renewed”, specifies the manager.
As such, the service sometimes raises the concerns of some consumers about the retention of their personal data. On this point, Armel-Alexandre Plaud wants to be reassuring.
“The personal data recorded (surname, first name, e-mail or postal address, telephone numbers are only used within the framework of the Bloctel service. They are never exchanged with cold-calling professionals. They are transmitted to the DGCCRF strictly part of their investigations,” he says.
In addition, he explains that this information is automatically deleted when a user does not renew his registration, or decides to unsubscribe from the service.
If the system seems well established, it does not, a fortiori, prevent abuse. “Unfortunately, the system does not prevent certain actors from trying to circumvent the law”, specifies Mr. Plaud.
However, there are remedies. “Registered consumers can report abusive cold calling numbers,” continues the communications manager.
It is the DGCCRF which then takes over from the service to carry out investigations, and sanction, if necessary, the offenders.
In the event of proven non-compliance with the Bloctel system, fraudsters are liable to a fine of €75,000 for a natural person and €375,000 per breach for a legal person. “If a person registered with the Bloctel service receives a canvassing phone call that they consider abusive, they can report it on their space: www.bloctel.gouv.fr”, adds Armel-Alexandre Plaud.
For him, it is essential to report abusive calls, “to allow the DGCCRF to investigate and punish offenders. We are convinced that it is together that we will put an end to abusive telephone canvassing which annoys consumers and discredits the profession”.
Moreover, if you want to protect yourself even more against canvassing, Armel-Alexandre Plaud indicates that there are other solutions, in addition to the Bloctel service. “There are “anti-spam” applications offered by operators. Some landline telephone manufacturers also offer anti-spam solutions,” explains the manager.