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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

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

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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?

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“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.]

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


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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

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

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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.

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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……

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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

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??

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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.

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.

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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