/ Home & Energy

Update: getting to grips with nuisance calls in Scotland

Nuisance calls

Latest Which? research shows Scots get more unwanted phone calls than the rest of the UK. Since the launch of the Scottish campaign on nuisance calls, we’ve been pushing for the Scottish government to tackle the problem and we’ve had a breakthrough…

Last week at the Scottish government’s Nuisance Calls Summit in Edinburgh, Scotland’s new Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown MSP gave a keynote speech and confirmed a Taskforce would be set up to tackle the problem.

Nuisance calls summit

We presented our latest research to regulators Ofcom, ICO, network providers such as BT and Three, Trading Standards Scotland, SSE, those in the voluntary sector representing vulnerable people and Scottish Government officials.

Our research found that 83% of those surveyed in Scotland, just over 1,000 people, said they’d received a nuisance call on their landline in the last month.

What’s more worrying is the sheer volume of these calls people in Scotland receive. A third of Scottish residents told us they had 11 or more nuisance calls in a month.

Last month, we analysed calls to customers with call blocking service trueCall, we found that over the last three years, people in Scotland received around 37 unwanted calls a month, compared to 26 for customers across the rest of the UK.

Older, more vulnerable trueCall customers received an average of 45 calls per month and 27% of these more vulnerable customers received more than 60 calls a month.

Our research found that Scots are taking action to stop the calls by asking to be removed from a database, asking not to be called again, or complaining to their friends or families. But around a third simply don’t know where to go to complain.

Update: 21 November 2016

Which? and trueCall teamed up to analyse over nine million calls made to trueCall customers between January 2013 and September 2016 and found that Scotland’s cities top the table for receiving the highest number of nuisance calls.

Out of eighteen UK cities, Scotland’s cities occupy the first, second and fourth place, for the highest number of nuisance calls made to trueCall users. Analysis found that Glasgow is the number one city with a staggering 51.5% of calls being classed as a nuisance. This is followed by Edinburgh with 47.8% of nuisance calls and Aberdeen saw 45.6%.

This latest research comes as the Scottish Government’s Nuisance Calls Commission is due to meet for the first time in Edinburgh on Wednesday 30 November. Last month, Keith Brown MSP, told Which? Conversation that he would be challenging the Commission to put in place solutions that will make a long-term difference to nuisance calls in Scotland.

Which? is calling on the Scottish Government to use this Commission to agree and publish its promised action plan on tackling nuisance calls. The plan should put pressure on Scottish businesses to be more proactive in protecting consumers, as well as providing more help for vulnerable people, such as installing call blocking technology.

Stats only tell half the story

It is, after all, about much more than the stats. Our supporters have shared with us what nuisance calls means for them. People like Alex from Lockerbie, who can’t make contact with his wife’s aunt, a frail 93 year old, because she refuses to answer her phone dreading it is ‘that woman again’.

Or Frank from Gairloch, who still gets calls for his late wife who died three years ago.

Or Tina from Orkney, who has a debilitating medical condition requiring her to sleep a lot, so the last thing she needs is to have to get up to unnecessary cold calls.

It’s clear that no one piece of research will give a complete picture, but the evidence we have shows that there is a particular problem in Scotland that needs resolving. So the summit offered a good opportunity to stimulate action. Help us call on the Scottish government to cut off cold calls by signing our petition.

As well as continued action at Westminster, we now look forward to a Scottish government TaskForce and an Action Plan to set out concrete actions to stop these calls.


just another thing Nicola sturgeons government ignore the people

K Hufton says:
3 June 2017

can’t blame Nicola for nuisance phone calls. That lies with our phone providers

K.Hufton , Nicola now = Putin –in the media .

Alexa ndra Durning says:
27 December 2016

I thought that Telecommunications and Consumer Protection were reserved matters, i.e. can only be addressed by the Westminster Government. Therefore, why is the petition addressed to the Scottish Government? Are we blaming the wrong people here?

It is Alexandra , NS is trying out a “Scottish initiative ” of talks with BT/ commerce/ regional councils /etc to see if there is anything she can do to apply “pressure ” on the interested bodies . I like you Alexandra am skeptical that without power to make changes to the Telecommunications Act any “changes ” will be cosmetic , maybe sanction a few Scottish businesses who operate those “sales ” websites from Glasgow etc or are based in Scotland , but I can see big business for many lawyers as they could bring up deprivation of “business ” as just one legal point . I await somebody proving me wrong ?

“Important announcement for people on benefits. A new boiler….”
The authorities just aren’t taking this seriously. Either they act and get rid of these cold-callers, or we act, and get rid of the authorities. Get a grip, or ship out.

You’re welcome

James Murray

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

K Hufton says:
3 June 2017

I had 12 of these yesterday either boiler or window scrappage . I was apparently being investigated for tax fraud the day before.

jane says:
29 March 2017

calls daily multiple times silent calls
going on for months despite reporting them
lone oap very alarming making me ill
they just will NOT STOP
many reported this number they just will not stop
something must be done NOW on this pest threatening menacing nuisance


Jane can you afford a call-blocker ? that would help your stressed situation.

William Renwick says:
27 April 2017

I have a call blocker and have not had any cold calls since installing it, but that does NOT mean I am not interested in having cold callers outlawed, let’s do everything we can to get rid of them

K Hufton says:
3 June 2017

Bt nuisance call blocking is part of my contract. But surprise it’s not available on our exchange ( Lochans) Stranraer .

Question K. Hufton is your line EO -exchange only -no street cabinet ? Your exchange is fibre enabled (FTTC) but it is not up to Openreach in this case it is up to BT to programme the exchange equipment which it can do but might take some time . Another customer in the same boat January-2017 went to BT,s Community forum , a Moderator -BT NOT CoS can get the ball rolling for you. read : https://community.bt.com/t5/Bills-Packages/Trying-to-get-Call-Protection-since-Monday/td-p/1709095 you can log into MY BT and take it from there after you read the posts in the URL. and post your complaint the same way you do on Which.

Theresa Brown says:
27 July 2017

I have a Call Blocker which is great for blocking unwanted calls but unfortunatly due to ill health I also have a community health alarm and cannot use the Call Blocker with it in case it blocks the alarm data people and I am unable to get assistance if I need help these calls need to stop NOW before someone comes to some harm.

This is one I can answer from personal experience Theresa , my wife has a regional council /social services one and they have no problem calling me on it even though I have just about everything blocked on my CPR-Call-Blocker . If they complain they cant contact you they must be using a withheld number or an out of area number , tell them to use an 0800 number or an incoming only number . The unit is rung NOT just the phone and it goes onto loudspeaker mode automatically broadcasting it all over the house . What type of call-blocker are you using ?

Kim Cuthbertson says:
14 September 2017

No disrespect but I work for my councils community alarm service. We take hundreds of calls a day. We call out Ambulances,Fire brigade,Key holders,carers,Dr’s,district nurses,falls teams etc etc. We are an emergency line just like Ambulance ,Fire brigade or police. If for example,we get a pendant no response. Our first call is to the resident. Call blocking is a problem. It can delay assistance or we have to then call out for further assistance from neighbours,family or emergency services. Only to discover the pendant was pressed in error. The easiest thing to do,is to add the Careline number to your call block,so WE can get through. We don’t have time to be calling 0800 numbers etc……

Kim , if your post is addressed to me , I have to say I DO have the greatest respect for your service .It is reasonably priced, your staff are polite, well mannered, and I have already posted on Which that I let my grill burn toast that ended up by the sending out of the Fire Brigade as the alarms are connected to your main unit via the land-line . I praised your service HIGHLY and I have no reason to change my mind . I was only pointing out that I personally , have contacted my GP,s surgery told them I have a Call- Blocker and they call me on an open line . Likewise the hospital I attend knows it also and calls me on an INCOMING line only . I am in no way criticising your excellent service.

Christine Beveridge says:
27 August 2017

I already use ex-directory, telephone preference service and block all known cold callers. However because I live alone and am additionally vulnerable for various reasons it’s not enough. The only thing that will stop this nuisance is making it a criminal offence and enforcing it through effective use of advanced technology and stiff penalties

bishbut says:
12 September 2017

Long mandatory prison sentences every time Fines are not a punishment for most offenders How many fines are never paid or paid by the company not the offender The do not punish them hard it might harm them have run this country for too long

Chris Rothery says:
11 September 2017

I like others have registered with the TPS . But reading other comments paying for a call blocker is futile. It is time these companies faced heavier fines or even better are shut down. I have also noticed a lot of nuisance calls are coming from abroad, How do we stop this??

Chris-Get HMG to draw up legislation to force ISP,s to block those calls . Only problem –they wont do it as businesses use the same methods.

Kim Cuthbertson says:
14 September 2017

I find the calls annoying and intrusive. However,my main concern is for the elderly and the vulnerable. I know I have had to hang up the phone when the caller is persistent. Many people feel pressure to be polite and indeed agree to things they may not need or want. This along with doorstep calling ,should be illegal.We should all feel safe in our homes.

Donald Jeffrey says:
15 September 2017

I’m on the organ doner list. I need a special individual to die so that I may not. Not a nice thought to live with believe me. My phone must be available 24/7 for contact with the transplant unit roughly 35 miles away, as time is vital if a suitable doner is found. What I don’t need is an average of 3 cold callers a day, who feed you lies, and will not give you the information you need to report them. I’m so sick of it I have recently terminated my contract with BT. As their all money as far as I’m concerned, and do not really help stamp out this horrible practice. My biggest Regret- I will shortly lose my current email address but does that really matter when I lose my life if no doner is found.
Please fight cold calling, and give some thought to becoming an organ doner and helping someone like me. Thanks

Hi Donald – I am very disappointed that it remains legal for companies to ring phone numbers unless people have registered with the TPS. It is also legal to carry out market research by phone without individuals giving permission. I would like to see all marketing and market research calls made illegal.

I am in England rather than Scotland and used to have many nuisance calls each week, latterly mostly obvious scam calls. Thankfully they have all but stopped, so hopefully you and others will be relived of this menace soon.

I signed up as a kidney donor after meeting a friend of a friend who was in desperate need, in the late 70s, and then put my name down as an organ donor when I became aware of the scheme. Much though I hate celebrities, I think that celebrity endorsement would help get more people to sign up as organ donors. I hope you are lucky soon.

Yes I echo what Wavechange said , you have my deepest sympathy Donald but I am puzzled why you terminated your lad-line with BT as all ISP,s are in the same boat and customers of other companies have the same complaints . Are you saying you are now only on Cell-net mobile phone and thats how the hospital contacts you ? If so , for somebody in your position thats a whole lot of reliance on the mobile service and your smart-phone .

Stewart Walls says:
26 September 2017

I was receiving between 8 to 31 calls a day between the daylight hours 0800 to 1000 and now they are trying
The evening as well, they are not only annoying, they are obusive as well! BT do not seem to care, I have purchased an BT8600 Premium Nuisance Call Blocker. Phone, this has helped, I do not anwer it now, the phone, does it now, it is a help, I have to say BT do not come out off this squeaky clean, as they are making money out off this, And I say moving there call centres to foreign places, who answer in a kind off English, which, they have learned, like a piece of poetry, they are the ones, that run BT, and cannot get your complaint through to , the appropriate people, that should be getting this. It is a catch 22 situation BT get your call centres back under your control, and get them back to this country!


Stewart Walls