What are nuisance calls?

Nuisance marketing calls are unwanted phone calls that attempt to promote a product, service, aim or ideal to you. For example a caller could try to sell you something or ask you to support a particular cause.

There are two types of marketing calls:

  • Live marketing calls: unwanted marketing calls from a real person.
  • Automated marketing calls: pre-recorded marketing messages that are played when you answer the phone.

Live marketing calls

What does the law say?

The ICO enforces the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 which cover the way organisations make live direct marketing telephone 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. Live marketing calls 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 live marketing calls?

To help stop nuisance live marketing calls you can:

  • register with the TPS free of charge (you can register mobile numbers as well as landlines). The TPS is a central register of individuals who have opted out of receiving live marketing calls;
  • register with the CPTS if you are a company (the CPTS works in the same way as TPS but for companies and other corporate bodies);
  • check privacy statements when you provide your phone number; and
  • tell organisations you deal with if you don’t want them to market you by phone.

Please note, if you agreed that a particular organisation could make live marketing calls to you but you then subsequently registered your number with the TPS, your initial consent to that organisation still remains. You can of course withdraw your consent to marketing calls however you will need to contact the organisation directly to do this.

What can I do if I am receiving nuisance live marketing calls?

You should tell the caller that you don’t want to receive marketing calls from them. The organisation should then stop the marketing calls.

If the organisation continues to make marketing calls even though you have asked them to stop you can report your concerns to us.

If you register your number with the TPS and you continue to receive nuisance live marketing calls 28 days after registering, you can complain either directly to the TPS or you can report your concerns to us.

Automated marketing calls

What does the law say?

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

You should only receive automated marketing calls if you have previously agreed an organisation can make these calls to you.

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 (that begins 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 marketing 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. We also have the power to fine those who break the law up to £500,000.

We publish a monthly update on action we have taken to enforce nuisance calls and messages;