Take Action: Nuisance Calls

Channel 4 Dispatches has looked at the problem of nuisance phone calls, documenting the irritation and inconvenience that it can cause people around the country. Our acting director, Emma Carr, contributed to the investigation. Here, we have compiled the advice that is currently available for people concerned about any nuisance calls that they are receiving.

Ofcom has created a video on what to do if you receive nuisance calls

What are nuisance calls?

The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 covers the way organisations make direct marketing telephone calls.

According to the ICO, 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.

There are two types of marketing calls:

  • Telesales (live) calls: unwanted sales calls from a real person.

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.

  • Automated calls: pre-recorded marketing messages that are played when you answer the phone.

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

Ofcom has also provided the following guides and information:

Other advice from the ICO:

What can I do to avoid nuisance calls?

  • Telesales (live) 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 calls?

  • 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:

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.

Who to contact to make a complaint?

  • If you would like to complain about live telesales calls, automated marketing calls and spam texts or marketing emails you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office
  • If you would like to complain about abandoned and silent calls you should contact Ofcom
  • You should contact PhonepayPlus, if you would like to complain about a premium rate number or service, and have been unable to contact the responsible company or if they have failed to resolve your complaint.
  • If you are registered with the Telephone Preference Service and would like to complain about unsolicited live telesales calls you should contact the TPS.
Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Take Action | 3 Comments


  1. Michael Knight
    19th August 2014

    I have been a member of the TPS for what seems like forever. It used to work, but now with foreign companies actually calling you from their own country and masking their caller ID to appear to be from a UK number is allowing them to bypass the TPS register.

    It no longer works. Like everything else, scammers will always find loopholes and new ways to get what they want.

    I have put in many a claim only to be told that it’s out of their jurisdiction and what happened to being able to sue someone for £5000 if they breach the register?

    I now have my own PBX Exchange at home that I can use to control incoming and outgoing calls. Skype, SIP and Smartphones connect to the PBX so I’m always in control and my mobile also has a call blocker app just in case. But why should I or other people like me have to go to such extremes when the likes of the TPS and Telephony providers should be doing more to stamp this out.

  2. Diana Martin
    6th September 2014

    When I get these calls-which are now getting les-I tell them-that all calls are monitored-and secondly-I charge £10 a time to reply to surveys-send the cheque to my home no-which most have-with in 2 weeks-so that the cheque is in force-they seem a bit taken back-and I normally say “good bye” as am busy !Play them at thier own games-Simple

  3. W johnston
    13th April 2015

    Hi i and my wife r fed up sitting at meals when they strike i keep telling them that I have contacted the police . But they tell u they r not selling anything , so i ask them why they phoned me if not selling anything Or i get the phone hung up when i say hello or when wife answers thephone they hang up. So please tell me what i can do please . please oblige W Johnston