/ Technology

Do you get nuisance calls to your mobile phone?

Mobile phone graphic

When we’ve previously talked about nuisance calls we’ve generally focussed on calls to your landline. But do you get nuisance calls to your mobile? Our survey says it’s highly likely…

We’ve previously found that six in ten people have been discouraged from picking up their landline phone due to nuisance calls. Some of you have even told us that you’ve unplugged your phone in exhaustion. But even that isn’t the end of the problem – we’re also getting calls to our mobile phones.

Our latest survey of mobile users found seven in ten had had at least one nuisance call to their mobile. That’s compared to just over half in 2013. One in ten even said they’d received more than 20 unwanted calls in just one month.

Register your mobile with the TPS

Something that can help stem the flow is signing up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Yet, of the 78.9m active mobile phone subscriptions in the UK, just 3% are registered with the TPS.

It turns out most of us don’t realise we can actually add our mobile numbers to the TPS. To put some numbers on that statement – almost all (96%) in our survey knew they could put their landline number on the official ‘do not call’ list. But only a third said they think the TPS can be used to block unsolicited calls to mobiles.

So if you want to help curb nuisance calls on your mobile, log your number with the TPS. To ease this process, we’ve worked with the TPS to launch a new free text service to let people register their mobile numbers. Just text OPTOUT to 80057.

Action to stop nuisance calls

Of course, we know that the TPS isn’t necessarily the end of the problem. So today we’re also reiterating our call on the Government, regulators and businesses to continue working together to tackle nuisance calls, with further action needed to cut them off at source.

Oh and if you’re at home and watching TV tonight, tune into Channel 4 Dispatches at 8pm. I’ll be on talking about nuisance calls and the action needed to stop them.

Do you get nuisance calls to your mobile phone? Did you know you could register your mobile number with the TPS?

Useful links

You can visit the TPS website to register your phone number too


I have had the same mobile number for at least ten years and have not had any nuisance calls apart from the occasional wrong number. My number appears on a website, albeit in a form that cannot be harvested automatically. Every company that I give my number to is told that they must not pass on my contact details. I don’t know why I get nuisance calls on my landline number but not on the mobile.

I should add that my mobile number is not registered with TPS, whereas my landline number is.

If you didn’t watch Dispatches last night, you can watch their ‘How to stop nuisance calls’ special here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/

Within a day of posting my comment about having no problem with nuisance calls on my mobile, I had two calls that showed up as being from 0800 0641081. From the message left, they were clearly marketing calls.

About a year ago (I believe I wrote about it here) I received about fifty text messages offering me loans over a period of a couple of months. What was significant about these was that they came from the same place using fifty different phone numbers. For each I used the service that is supposed to block these when they have been reported (I forget the number now). I am still puzzled as to why any one can obtain an unlimited number of phone numbers, how these are charged and paid for and which phone company gives them out. Obviously, in my case, they helped the so called loan firm to bombard me with impunity.
More recently (again reported on these pages) someone in South London used a phone number with one digit different to mine. I forget how many people wanted me to supply them with a hire car. It’s all gone quiet for the moment and I hope it stays that way. I don’t have an answer phone on my mobile and always answer it when it rings. My land line is protected with an answer phone and I can decide whether to pick up or leave them to talk to themselves.

I don’t know the technical details, but it is possible to display false numbers on caller display, in the same way that emails can appear to come from one address but are sent from another (email spoofing).

The cost of making phone calls is not really an issue these days. Various people have posted suggestions about how to make cheap or free overseas calls on other Conversations.

I would like companies that make nuisance calls to have their phone service suspended for increasing lengths of time until they learn to behave, but they could switch to using mobile phones with unlimited call tariffs.

The control of and issue of phone numbers is the responsibility of OFCOM. Marketing companies use a phone system known as an Auto dialler. This routinely dials up numbers in a continuing sequence in the hope of getting a ‘hit’. When they do, and someone answers, a recorded message is played to the recipient.

Trevor says:
12 November 2015

But shouldn’t the auto-dialler check numbers against the Telephone Preference Service list before dialling them? If it doesn’t, presumably they can/should be reported?

I have my land line and mine & my wife’s mobiles registered but we still get the occasional ppi cold calling. The land line is on permanent answer and we’ve told our friends to say who they are otherwise we don’t pick the phone up. My wife receives calls on her mobile and her answer is to reply in a foreign language which usually shuts them up.

Trevor says:
31 October 2015

Where is the text of the petition you are asking us to sign??
Surely Which? is not asking people to sign a document that they have not first had the opportunity of reading, which would be typical of rogue companies??

I’m sorry to take so long to reply to you. It’s been quite a week!

We are perhaps using the word ‘petition’ in a different way from the traditional sense, as we are mainly asking for support for a campaign against nuisance calls, with our broader campaign asks in the ‘Know the issue’ section of our campaign website: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/know-the-issue/

We did quite a lot of user testing with around the structure of our campaigns website when it launched two years ago, but we’re about to commence a review and I’ll certainly add your views into that.

I don’t get many nuisance calls on my mobile – but every now and then I have a spate of calls from car sales trying to give me a quote for a car that I don’t have – someone is either using my number when they go online to research – I can’t understand it but it frequently happens at least once a year for some years. My husband has used my moblile number when filling in forms online and the other day he was checking a website about boilers – he did not enter any information into the site – just looked. I then had a text message and numerous calls from the company – Boiler Guide in Market Harborough. How did they get my number? What can I do to remove the information to stop this happening again when we are researching online? Something for Which to address perhaps?

If you feel like it, do take advantage of the line press 1 (or whatever) to talk to an operator and inform them that this is an MoD telephone and that you do not expect to get called on it by them again. It usually works and an apology is given.

Skylinks says:
12 November 2015

Nuisance calls to a mobile are no problem. They only call me once. If I don’t want to hear from them ever again I simply add them to my blacklist and I never receive another call. They still call (according to the log) but I don’t know about it……….bliss. Download an app like Blacklist Plus (free) to solve your problems.
If only achieving the same with a landline was as simple!

The one particular call to my mobile is the one that says ” their is still time to claim for the accident that you had about 3 years ago”. Strange really, seeing as though I never had an accident.

Frank says:
12 November 2015

They are a nuisance both on landline and mobile, which are both registered with TPS. As others have said, I do add calls on my mobile to a blacklist.

Every so often, if I am bored I try to see how long I can keep the caller on the line. My record is about 15 minutes with someone trying to convince me there was a problem with my computer. Eventually he said I was wasting his time! BTW I worked in DP/IT for 40 years, so it was not too difficult.

I had a few dozen texts of a vivid sexual nature on my mobile,some at night, sometimes several at night in quick succession. The provider said they could not stop them, as they only can block commercial calls, and the police cannot block them either, as the caller cannot be identified: it is not a contract number, but a PAYG one. I understand that smartphones have a special button for blocking unwanted numbers, but mine is a Doro meant for elderly and/or disabled people, it has no such facility. The police sent “my caller” a strongly worded text, which stopped the flow. Apart from the nuisance of the calls, I am surprised that calls of this nature, classified as criminal, cannot be stopped!

In the end I purchased a land-line that allows me to block nuisance calls. I have no need of a mobile phone, and frankly the idea that I could be rung anywhere anytime never has had an appeal to me. Only time I ever use my mobile is when I go out in case of breakdown. No use for one otherwise. So mine is a pay-as-you-go. I managed for many years without a mobile, so see absolutely no reason to purchase one now. Just another item for someone to try and hassel me!

I get at least 2 a day. Spooky thing is, they know my name. I am registered with TPS. It used to be PPI claims calls, now it’s ‘You have been involved in an accident recently…’. It seems it’s Wild West territory out there with companies making money out of selling out data.

Your name and address will be on the electoral register, David. Even if you have requested that you are not on the ‘open register’, many organisations will have your contact details and it only takes one to sell them.

It does not take many calls to find someone who may have a PPI claim or has been involved in an accident.

How do I sign? Sorry but I am a white haired old codger.

Hi Ian, you may find it easier to sign here on our campaigns website: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/know-the-issue/ Fill in the petition panel on the right hand side. If you want to opt-in to our campaign emails so you’re kept up-to-date, you can tick the box, but there’s no obligation 🙂 Thanks for the support

Rodney Innes says:
1 December 2015

I bought the BT 8500 phone great for stopping these call would highly recommend it. It’s feature Call guardian works a treat

Bought the BT 8500 too – it works very well, you can look at the calls list and see how many calls it has prevented from getting through. But we shouldn’t have to buy expensive equipment to protect our privacy.
The problem I can see with relying on Scottish legislation is that most of these calls come from outside Scotland, even from outside the UK and Europe.

Peter says:
1 December 2015

I thought the power over telecommunications had been retained by Westminster, so what can the Scottish government actually do about this?

KSander says:
1 December 2015

the com[anies take the cost off tax, call centre staff, who in turn employ staff which keeps the unemployment figures down , and the Scottish government might find that convenient.
I have contacted politicians to point this out, as the spiel is often couched in talk as though the government is fostering this kind of contact. I paid to have the calls blocked but eventually they return.

I get pestered with Energy efficiency automated calls daily! They are automated calls which withhold the number and the message does not identify the company! They give an option to be removed from their list but despite selecting this option on numerous occasions, I still get the calls!

I got so fed up, I subscribed to Caller ID, which has a weekly fee! Unfortunately I get a number of call from my Doctor or Health Carers, who’s numbers are also withheld and it blocked them too, so I had no choice but to unsubscribe!

I am registered with TPS, but they do not handle complaints regarding automated calls! I have raised a complaint with ICO, but that has not stopped them either!

I have recently bought a new set of wireless phones and don’t want to go to the expense of blocking technology