The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

Nuisance calls

What are nuisance calls?

Nuisance marketing calls can be live sales calls or calls where a pre-recorded message is played. What these calls have in common is that there is an attempt to promote a product, service, aim or ideal to you.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 cover the way organisations make direct marketing telephone calls.

There are two types of marketing calls:

  • Telesales (live) calls: unwanted sales calls from a real person.
  • Automated calls: pre-recorded marketing messages that are played when you answer the phone.

Telesales (live calls)

Live marketing calls should not be made to anyone who has registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), unless they have told the caller that they wish to receive such calls from them. They should also not be made to anyone who has told the caller directly that they do not wish to receive marketing calls.

What can I do to avoid nuisance telesales calls?

To help stop nuisance live marketing calls you can:

  • register with the TPS free of charge;
  • check privacy statements when you provide your phone number; and
  • tell organisations you deal with if you would rather they did not market you by phone.

What can I do if I am receiving nuisance telesales (live) calls?

If you receive a live marketing call which you think breaches the Regulations you should write to or email the organisation concerned (remembering to keep a copy of all correspondence). Tell them about the problem and allow them time to put things right.

If you continue to receive live nuisance calls 28 days after registering with the TPS, you can complain to the TPS. You can also report your concerns to us.

Automated calls

Automated marketing calls should only be made to you when you have previously agreed that the organisation can make these calls.

What can I do if I am receiving nuisance automated calls?

If you are receiving calls that ask you to phone a premium rate number (one beginning with 090) you can contact PhonepayPlus. They regulate products or services that are charged to users' phone bills or pre-pay accounts.

For all other nuisance automated calls, you can report your concerns to us.

Silent or abandoned calls

These are calls when you answer the phone and there's no one there.

If you are receiving silent calls, you can get more advice from Ofcom on 020 7981 3040.

What is the ICO doing about nuisance calls?

We meet with companies to discuss their compliance with the law and monitor their progress. And we now have the power to fine those who break the law:

Find out more about the action we're taking on nuisance calls