Women in Business and nuisance phone calls

Posted: 15th October 2017

Women in Business and nuisance phone calls

One of the main benefits of WiRE membership is an online directory listing which features business details including email and phone numbers . This marketplace highly SEO’d and helps WiRE member businesses be found on Google and hopefully attract new customers.

It seems that this is not all they are attracting. We had a WiRE member contact us this time last year with the following story…

She received a withheld number phone call from a cultured, well-spoken man who asked for her by name then proceeded to sing “The Stripper” to her, as she says “with lots of flourish, bumpty bums and ta dahs”, the only thing he says is “do you know what this is (Name)”.

When she casually mentioned it at her regular WiRE meeting, 3 other women reported exactly the same. Since sending out an email to our database of members alerting them to the issue, we have had over 100 responses telling the same story, exactly the same call. And an update for 2017 last weekend (14/15th October) another 30 members have received calls – if you have received a call could you please email me fiona@wireuk.org with the date and time.

We don’t think it’s anything to do with WiRE particularly – we are just a place online where this person can easily find lots of women under one roof. We have had a couple of emails saying that House of Colour and the Therapists Network have also had reports of multiple members receiving the same nuisance calls – potentially this is much wider spread.

We have done whatever we can to try to catch this individual, we have; spoken to the police, written the MD of BT, written to Woman’s Hour (who didn’t respond) and spoken to the WHICH campaign for reducing nuisance calls.

The police suggest that individuals contact 101 and raise an incident with the local police. However they cannot deal with the issue as a whole, each call is treated as a separate incident and there is no opportunity to link them up. The calls are neither malicious nor threatening so are a low priority.

BT suggested calling the Nuisance Line (0800 411422) to put a trace on the line. But this only works when the call is made to a BT Landline (which it never has been yet) and we never know who will be called next.

The WHICH team suggest:

  • Diarising any calls & listen for any background noise
  • Try and record him on speakerphone if possible
  • Try 1471 just in case he slips up
  • Say nothing on the phone but listen to his entire call
  • Record any time patterns or repeated calls
  • Don’t allow it to change your behaviours; he is looking for a reaction

All the experts we have spoken to have been very sympathetic and helpful but ultimately cannot really do anything. We feel that each method of reporting treats the call individually and is thus unable to appreciate the scale; this is one big problem as well as a series of small ones.

We can report back that the calls seem to have reduced in frequency, none for the last few weeks, so he may have moved onto new ground or realised that we are wise to him. We think that knowledge and sharing the incidents with a community has diluted the impact somewhat and ask that you talk about this at your other networks so that as many women in business as possible can be prepared and know what to do should it happen to them.

As a final note, WiRE members can hide their phone numbers on their WiRE profile page (sensible, but potentially bad for business). Most have not! They come back fighting – they will not take their online details down and refuse to be intimidated (although interestingly, most had told nobody and were relieved when they realised they were not alone). We are really proud to feature only women in business on our marketplace directory and are committed to promoting and supporting women in business and will continue to fight very hard to make sure they don’t face any additional obstacles –there are enough already.