How to block unwanted sales and cold calls in the UAE

People can sign up for the Do Not Call Registry feature to stop such calls permanently

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 21:  A man using a mobile phone during the third day of GITEX Technology Week, which was held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Dubai on October 21, 2008.  (Randi Sokoloff / The National)  For story by Tom Gara for mobile phone usage. Can also be used for stock purposes.
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“Congratulations, you have been pre-approved for a Dh500,000 personal loan without any salary transfer. This offer is valid only until the end of the month, so hurry up and register now on this link for a callback.”

Whether you have an Etisalat, du or Virgin phone number, you must have answered calls like these several times.

They can come at any time of the day, whether it is during an important office meeting or family dinner time.

Last year, The National found batches of phone numbers and other personal data was routinely sold to people including estate agents.

So how do you stop this menace ofunwanted calls? The National explains.

Where do unwanted calls come from?

These can be telemarketing calls when the caller is trying to sell you products or services, or automated calls to remind or notify you of payments, or remind you of doctor’s appointments. They can also be illegal recorded messages for services that you have not subscribed to, or spam calls.

Increased use of Voice over internet Protocol, through which a single computer can make thousands of calls, or companies selling customer databases had led to an increase in such calls.

What are the laws?

In 2011, the UAE's Central Bank put a ban on cold calling. This prevented banks and finance companies from offering loans and services to people who had not sought out their business.

But the practice is widespread in various forms — often under the guise of prompting people to accept deals and special offers.

In real estate, it is widely used to promote rentals and properties for sale.

All telemarketers must now get consent from individuals to make promotional calls. Businesses that do not follow the rules will have their numbers revoked. Getty

In January, the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority launched a service called 'Kashif' that shows people where a call is originating from — a bank, an F&B, a telecom company or an insurance firm.

The aim was to reduce the number of anonymous calls residents receive. By the end of this year, all private companies must register their phone numbers under the 'Kashif' service.

What can individuals do?

The Do Not Call Registry feature can stop all unwanted calls. It has been in place since September 2022 and early this month, telecom providers started sending out messages to increase awareness.

All telemarketers must now get consent from individuals to make promotional calls. They are advised not to make calls to the phone numbers listed in the DNCR directory unless they have the prior consent of a customer to do so.

People who do not follow the rules will have their numbers revoked and will be reported to the concerned authorities.

How does it work?

It's simple. To register your mobile number, send an SMS message reading ‘DNCR’ to 1012. This applies to home, business, and mobile phone numbers. The registration is free and does not expire.

Once registered, your number is immediately updated in the registry and you will stop receiving unsolicited promotional calls, starting within 30 days from the date of registry.

If you still receive a call from a telemarketer without consent, you can raise a complaint by calling customer care of Etisalat at 101 for personal numbers or 800 5800 for business numbers.

People who have a du number can raise a complaint by calling on 155/188 or emailing for consumers and for businesses.

You can unblock calls by sending an SMS ‘UDNCR’ to 1012. You can also send an SMS to 1012 with ‘Check IDNCR’ to inquire about your number’s status.

How to block spam phone calls through your device setting

You can block phone numbers, contacts, and emails on your device.

You can also filter iMessages from unknown senders and report iMessages that look like spam or junk.

If you have an iPhone, tap Recents, then tap the Info button next to the phone number or contact that you want to block. Scroll down, then tap Block this Caller.

For phones that use Android platforms, such as Samsung, you can block calls using the Smart Call feature, which will recognise numbers that are not in your contact list and then give you the option to block or report the calls.

Updated: November 16, 2022, 7:52 AM