Ofcom: Fewer nuisance calls, but more to do

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People are experiencing fewer nuisance calls, but there is more work to do

The latest research from Ofcom shows that people are experiencing fewer nuisance calls than they were 3 years ago. The findings have been published in an update to the ICO and Ofcom joint action plan to tackle nuisance calls and messages.

What are nuisance calls

Nuisance calls include unsolicited sales and marketing calls, abandoned calls and silent calls.

An unsolicited call is one in which a business calls a person to sell them a service or product, and the person being called has had no prior contact with the business or salesperson making the call.

An abandoned call is one in which the caller connects to the recipient, but then caller ends the call when the recipient answers.

A silent call is one in which the caller connects to the recipient, but the recipient doesn't hear anything.

Research on nuisance calls

Ofcom researches nuisance calls three times a year; January, May and September. As part of the research, Ofcom asks people if they have received any nuisance calls on their landline phone and/or personal mobile phone during the previous four weeks.

Research from January 2020 shows that:

  • Nuisance calls to adults with a landline telephone has fallen by 22% over the last 3 years.
  • Nuisance calls to adults with a mobile telephone has fallen by 10% over the last 3 years.
  • The proportion of all landline and mobile customers who received a nuisance call was 48%, this compares to 54% in January 2018, and 58% in January 2017.

Complaints about nuisance calls

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) received around 37,000 fewer complaints about nuisance calls and messages than it did five years ago, which is a difference of 22%.

Ofcom received around 50% fewer complaints about silent and abandoned calls in 2019 (27,869) than it did in 2015 (49,648) when complaints were at their peak.

Ofcom: more work to do

Nuisance calls are unwanted and can cause anxiety and distress, or result in people being scammed by fraudsters.

Ofcom notes that while it's encouraging to see that progress has been made, there is still much more to do to protect people. The ICO and Ofcom joint action plan summarises the ongoing technical work to tackle the problem, including blocking nuisance calls at source, as well as the coordinated effort by the banking and telecoms industry to tackle scams, led by Stop Scams UK.

Covid-19 scams

The ICO and Ofcom are also aware of reports of scams related to Covid-19 and are working to help protect customers against these.
Ofcom has published advice for consumers on how to recognise and deal with Covid-19 scam calls and texts. Further advice for people on how to protect themselves against unwanted calls and messages more generally, is also available on our website.

Mark Burcher