Nuisance marketing calls, or spam calls, are unwanted phone calls that attempt to promote a product, service, aim or ideal to you where you haven’t given permission to be contacted.
You may have seen details of predatory marketing calls about white goods insurance (eg for your TV, washing machine or fridge) in the news recently. If you or your relatives have been affected by these calls, visit our complaint pages and report it to us.
What can I do if I’ve received a nuisance call?
You can report nuisance calls to the ICO using our online reporting tool.
Reporting cold calls – that either played a recorded voice or were from a real person – helps us stop nuisance marketing. The information you provide helps us investigate and take action against those responsible.
Details on how to report silent, abandoned and scam calls are below. The ICO handles predatory, nuisance marketing calls.
How do I protect myself from nuisance calls?
There are two types of nuisance calls:
- live marketing calls, which are calls from a real person, that you haven’t consented to receive; and
- automated marketing calls, which are pre-recorded marketing messages that are played when you answer the phone.
To stop live and automated marketing calls you can:
- register your landline or mobile number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) free of charge. The TPS is a register of people who have said they don’t want to receive marketing calls;
- report any nuisance calls that you continue to receive to the ICO using our online reporting tool; and
- refer complaints about fraud and scams to Action Fraud or Police Scotland, complaints about a business’s practices to Trading Standards through Citizens Advice and complaints about silent or abandoned calls to Ofcom.
Please note, if you agreed an organisation could make live marketing calls to you, but you then registered with the TPS after this, the organisation can still call you. You will need to contact the organisation directly to tell them to stop calling.
If you or your relative is particularly vulnerable – for example, if you or they have dementia or other underlying health conditions – then speak to your or their telephone network. They may have call blocking solutions available to offer support. Many of these services are provided free of charge. There are also call blocker units available for purchase if needed.
I’ve received a call about a pension scheme, what can I do?
There are strict rules on who can make a live marketing call to you in relation to pension schemes. In order to do this, the organisation must be a trustee or manager of the pension scheme, or a firm authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, they can only contact you if you have agreed to receive marketing calls.
I’ve received a call asking me to call a premium rate number, what can I do?
Some calls may ask you to phone a premium rate number. The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) regulates products or services that are charged to users’ phone bills or pre-pay accounts. You can contact them to report these calls or to access details of the premium rate number ranges the PSA regulates.
What is the ICO doing to stop nuisance calls?
We understand how distressing nuisance calls can be. The ICO is committed to protecting the public and stopping nuisance marketers. We regularly meet with companies to discuss their compliance with the law and monitor their improvement. We also have the power to fine those who break the law with over £2.8 million in fines issued to companies responsible for nuisance calls, texts and emails in 2021/22. We also work with the Insolvency Service, who can disqualify rogue company directors.
We publish a monthly newsletter which highlights the action we’ve taken against nuisance marketers. Sign up to receive this newsletter.