/ Technology

Nuisance calls crackdown: the progress so far

One year on from the first report by the Nuisance Calls and Texts Task Force, we’ve found some good progress but there’s still more to do.

Last year the Government asked me to chair a task force to look at the causes of nuisance calls and what could be done to tackle this modern day menace that affects so many of us. Together with regulators and industry bodies, this task force set out 15 recommendations for businesses, regulators and the Government to help stop nuisance calls.

Today, one year on since these recommendations were published, we have been looking at what has been achieved in the last year. Here’s what we found:

Actions by businesses and industry bodies

There has been some progress from big business and the third sector. For example, SSE has made one of its directors accountable for nuisance calls, and telecoms providers are working with Ofcom to identify nuisance call activities. The Charity Commission, the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Standards Board are working with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

However, the majority of companies have not announced or committed to making nuisance calls a board level issue.

Actions for regulators

Earlier this year the Competition and Markets Authority published a report on the commercial use of consumer data and has committed to play a role in any future regulation on this issue. The ICO is revising its guidance and has mystery shopped firms making unsolicited marketing calls and texts. It will also be holding workshops and consultations in the New Year looking at the wording of marketing consent.

Meanwhile, Ofcom is developing a process to register mobile numbers with the Telephone Preference Service by text and has opened a consultation to review its policy on how it tackles silent and abandoned calls under the Communications Act.

Actions for the Government

The big step forward this year came when the Government made it easier for the ICO to fine companies who are found to be making cold calls, and we’ve seen a number of hefty fines over the past year.

However, there’s been no progress on giving the regulator more powers to hold board level executives to account if they’re found flouting the rules – a key ask of our Calling Time campaign.

Meanwhile we’re still waiting on the Government to consult on legislation to introduce Caller Line Identification for marketing calls, making it simpler for people to see who’s calling them.

As yet, an awareness campaign aimed at businesses has not been launched and the Government also need to assess new policies, to ensure they do not lead to nuisance calls.

There’s more to be done

Across the UK more than 300,000 people have backed our campaign to call time on nuisance calls. Despite some good progress, we’re still seeing high levels of unwanted calls and texts so more work still needs to be done to put an end to this everyday menace once and for all.

The Government, regulators and businesses need to continue to work together, with further action to cut nuisance calls off at source and make senior executives accountable if their company is caught flouting the rules.


We have had to buy an answering-machine so that we can vet these calls (we are not with BT so we can’t check the incoming number). Why should these intrusive organisations be allowed to make a nuisance of themselves in our home, using a service that we are paying for (our landline)? This has been going on for far too long, and the number of calls seems to be increasing every year, in spite of us registering with the Telephone Preference Service.

I don’t see any good progress in this department, I still get one a day on average. They always phone at the most inconvenient times and when I’m expecting another important call. I’m not sure you’re aiming your campaign in the right direction. Either companies or else government sell on our information to the highest bidder – how is that legal ? Otherwise well done for supporting the consumer.

Theresa says:
9 December 2015

I get at least four every single day, a lot from India & Malaysia, fortunately I have Caller ID, so I just don’t answer if it’s a number I do not recognise, even though I am registered with the TPS, it makes absolutely no difference, when I did answer in the beginning I found them very persistent & extremely rude when I tried to end the call, they also pretend to have English names like John or Darren , even though it is very hard to understand what they are saying.

One solution is not call blocking phones but phones that allow you to assign ring tones to numbers & area codes. You assign one to all the numbers in your phone book, and assign silence to the rest / no ID & let the answerphone take it.
Of course you have to switch this off or ‘watch’ for a silent ring when you are expecting a call with no caller ID (e.g. from a doctor, or bank when setting up DD, or credit card company when making a large purchase, etc).

The TPS & ICO are useless; if you tell a caller not to call again they just laugh at you. I’ve even had a charity refuse to remove my number since they wanted to speak to someone else!

We had a spate of calls with our local area code and Indian accents. They are more likely spoofed to look like a local call in an attempt to bypass all our tricks to avoid them.

I do a variation of this. I have have modern, but inexpensive Panasonic phone, and I put all OK numbers that I may want to use in future, in the phone memory, in one of 3 groups, Friends, Family or Other – I now have well over 100 saved. I assigned a different ring to each group, with the default normal phone ring for everything else. If the phone rings with the default ring I usually ignore it (and I don’t have to go to the phone and look at the number), and they can leave a message if they wish. The phone also blocks up to 30 numbers. That’s full, and I delete the oldest if I want to add one. The only difficulty so far is the Doctors’ Surgery which with-holds its number, but I usually know when they will ring. It takes time, but we now only get one or two junk calls per month, and I can cope with that.

Very simple solution to this problem. Find out the landline for your local MP, pop that onto as many ‘nuisance call company websites’ as you can so that your MP gets bombarded with nuisance calls, and you will find legislation in place in record time.
The problem here, as always, is that MP’s will only push for such legislation if is it in their interests!!! The fact that over 300k people have signed Which’s online survey calling for a ban in these calls says it all.
As much as the above individual action has worked in their favour, it is ludicrous that we should be forced to take such action ourselves. Unsolicited calls should be banned because the majority don’t want them.

I like most people was interrupted several times a day by nuisance callers. The simple remedy is to buy a telephone that filters out these unwanted calls by asking any unrecognised incoming caller (i.e. any number not in your telephone’s directory) to identify themselves. Most nuisance callers hang up at this point and your phone doesn’t ring. Any genuine caller says who they are and the phone then rings and gives you the choice of either accepting or rejecting the call. The phone I bought was the BT8500 but I’m sure there will be similar others around. Since buying this several months ago I have received ZERO nuisance calls.

G H CHASE says:
9 December 2015

When I endeavoured to trace some cold call numbers on a BT website, I got the message “not known to BT”
A little bit of research I then did on “funny” telephone numbers indicated that BT “sell/lease” large blocks of numbers to intermediary companies who then lease them to the cold-caller companies.
This allows BTto claim they don’t recognise the numbers, and it is a way of making it more difficult to trace the numbers; …..but importantly, “BT is in on the act”, making money out of leasing the lines, whilst also making money out of selling the blocker telephones to domestic customers.
Yes, we are all in it together,…..except of course those who are not.

Good bit of detective work G H Chase.

You have confirmed what I have thought for a long time. While BT can make money from nuisance calls, they will do nothing to fight them.

They sell you equipment to block nuisance calls, charge you for caller display, and make a fortune out of peoples misery.

Thank you for filling in the dots for me. I have often wondered why BT were reluctant to trace these non amusing “funny” numbers. I think it is a case of not wanting to, rather than the not able to angle BT gave to me.

you should be able to block landline calls with the press of a button as you can on mobiles

I know how difficult it is to block calls on landlines(my rule of thumb”number with held/number I do not recognize”don’t answer).However,for smart phones,there are two wonderful FREE apps– Trucaller and Trumessenger.My calls have dropped to virtually zero,with the added bonus that you can put the number/name on the Trucaller directory so everyone else can know that they are”rat calls”.Highly recommended.

Just ban the directors from using or causing the use of a telephone other than for emergency calls for a very long period. If not, just publish their ptivate numbers for us to repay them with our calls

Steve says:
9 December 2015

I had another one today ( Wednesday ), not funny, ban them all and lock the scum away
Check this number out someone – 0142337266

The number is one digit short-01423 is area code for Harrogate,North Yorkshire,but 37266 is not a recognized phone number,sorry.

Ed Dougall says:
9 December 2015

I get numerous calls daily from 02034 680526. Any numbers starting 020 (then 3 or 4, 5 or 6) are non-existant. Can’t something be done to trace these numbers?

Valid London numbers begin (020) 3, (020) 7 and (020) 8.

Numbers starting (020) 7 replaced the old (0171) numbers in 2001.

Numbers starting (020) 8 replaced the old (0181) numbers in 2001.

Numbers starting (020) 3 are new London numbers issued since 2005.

Numbers starting (020) 2, (020) 4, (020) 5, (020) 6 and (020) 9 are held in reserve for future expansion.

Any London landline can be dialled from any other London landline as an eight digit local number simply by omitting the 020 area code.

I am still receiving cold callers every day I have blocked 30 telephone numbers, but they are now using cell phones and private callers. I still only answer numbers I am sure of, and let my answer phone take over, not many leave messages.

What we need is action along with publicly identifying the culprits – both the name of the otganisation and the Directors behind those organisation.

Once i print a comment I am unable to get back to the debate!

The website seems to be a bit slow to respond and update sometimes, maybe that is the problem.

Can anyone help, I keep getting these funny numbers on my mobile which if I answer it just cuts of had them for months, when I get them now just put a block on them, which seems to reduce them, but they come back with a different number. this was the last one 00 20 07

Keith Smith says:
9 December 2015

Our Government should call the embassies in and tell them straight if they do not shut down these call centres back in their countries who are causing all these nuisances calls then they are in danger of us braking off diplomatic relations .
The companies that use foreign call centres are partly to blame because they have sent their complete data base of our details to these companies and in a land of so much poverty there will always be someone who will accept a large bribe from crooks to copy part or the whole of a data base.

Mike says:
9 December 2015

I purchased a CPR external call blocker and it deals with all withhelds, unavailable, international, out of area callers, 0 type spoof callers, voip/rogue callers. If I get an unrecognised call center (you can tell by the background noisy babble of all the other mutts working there), I press #2 on the phone and that blocks the same numberfrom the call centre. I`m not suggesting it`s perfect but it`s been a damn sight quieter here since I installed it. The biggest offender appears to be British Gas!

jingles says:
9 December 2015

I don’t get any nuisance calls what so ever and have never had one for the last 12 years because my phone number is with the tps it’s not in the phone book and it’s also a withheld number many people think because there number is not in the phone book when they make a call it does not show at the other end but it does you have to tell your phone provider to make it withheld also I never give my number out when asked

It is invasion of our privacy whether on a land line or mobile. The times I get calls saying I had an accident recently did I want to claim. I don’t go out much but do not drive either! The companies who sell our phone numbers to others should be punished both sides of the fence. Sick of these cold callers.

When I told one caller I had not had a car accident, he said well have you tripped on a pavement or slipped in a supermarket recently or did I know anyone who had? They just don’t give up.

Funny they can never tell you what is in the file in front of them that says you have had an accident.!!!