/ Home & Energy, Technology

Calling time on nuisance calls in Scotland

Nuisance calls are the bane of many households across the UK. And with nine in ten people in Scotland plagued by such calls, we now want the Scottish Government to take action. Will you join us?

As a new mum I’ve spent a great deal of time at home over the last year. A lot of that time has been spent fielding, and I must admit, avoiding nuisance calls.

Calls from companies that are flogging home insulation, or calling to tell me my computer may be at risk. ‘My computer is fine, thanks, but how did you get my phone number?’ is usually my response.

I very rarely pursue these calls to their natural end (presumably my handing over my bank details), but politely ask to be removed from their database.

Does it lead to fewer calls? No. The worst is the silent calls that are fairly tedious when it comes to baby bath time or bedtime.

Putting up with nuisance calls

Alan and JulieNowadays, I’ve learned to only ever pick up my home phone when I know I’m expecting a call. Or I’ll use my mobile phone so that I know who’s on the other end of the line. But I shouldn’t have to do this.

And our supporters Alan and Julie, from East Lothian, shouldn’t have to put up with these calls either. Alan told us:

‘I have an extremely disabled wife who has numerous health or social work calls. These numbers are withheld – to repeatedly get other unsolicited withheld calls is not only very annoying but can also stop an actual call getting through. It has now got to the stage where I have to screen every call.’

Calling time on nuisance calls in Scotland

Our UK-wide campaign to call time on nuisance calls has achieved a number of successes, but we’ve now set our sights on Scotland. A staggering nine in ten of the Scots we surveyed have had a nuisance call in the last month, and like me, 75% say they are now discouraged from picking the phone up when it rings.

We’ve been asking the UK Government to do more to tackle this problem, but given this is such an acute issue in Scotland too, we think the Scottish Government should also play their part.

We’re calling on the Scottish Government for an action plan, setting out how it will work with businesses (such as SSE, who are backing our campaign) and regulators to call time on nuisance calls. The plan should focus on:

  • Cracking down on businesses breaking the rules and holding senior executives to account.
  • Helping vulnerable people to cut the number of nuisance calls they receive.
  • Ensuring that new Scottish Government policy doesn’t lead to more nuisance calls.

Time for action in Scotland

As a new mum, there were certainly times in the last year when I was pretty fed up. And being bombarded by countless unsolicited telephone calls on top of that was not welcome, and it should stop.

But it won’t stop without an active role played by the Scottish Government, and businesses leading the way with good practice.

If you agree, please sign our petition calling on the Scottish Government to stop nuisance calls.

Useful links

The Daily Record: Nine in 10 Scots have been plagued by the menace of cold-calling

Comments
Profile photo of Janicemccrory
Member

Keep telling. Me as home owner entitled to new boiler I am not home owner fed up telling them this

Profile photo of WilmaPunton
Member

Just let them come and when they get there tell them you are not the home owner !!
My sister was fed up with a company phoning about double glazing she answered all the questions and then at very end said she would need to speak to the council to see if she could put the new windows in Phone went dead and they never called back

Member
Donald Davidson says:
30 December 2015

My nuisance calls don’t have a number I can complain about in the main i.e. withheld, unavailable, international etc.

Member

Nothing works…..my phone is ex-directory and still I get the nuisance calls….

Member
Keith says:
31 December 2015

The only way to stop international, private or withheld calls is a call blocker or unplug the landline. Even paying the fee to change your landline telephone number doesn’t help long term – answer one random unknown call and your on the suckers list again.

Member
ALEX BOYD says:
1 January 2016

Sometimes more than 20 a day, dialling 1477 reports the call as malicious if you are with talk talk but this only leads to an offer from talk talk to offer you a paid service to cut down these calls after a few months of reporting.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Alex -paid service for cutting down malicious calls is big business in the US and has been for a very long time . Those callers are actually making big bucks for many communication companies and also private companies set up explicitly just to provide call-blocking services . This is now part of the UK scenario too ,so much so that you would think the government allows it on purpose to increase business in the UK ,some way to make a profit eh !!

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

It hardly increases business in the UK. A lot of the useless call-blocking services associated with calling scams probably originate abroad and the money follows. It merely diverts money away from other more necessary or economically beneficial expenditures – I don’t think government is that warped.

Member
Brian says:
3 January 2016

I’d suggest removing the campaigns recommendation to sign up with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) should be removed from this campaign literature because it is widely held that registering with the TPS makes absolutely no difference to nuisance calls received and that this is possibly one of the reasons why many are joining the campaign. (I can state that in my experience, registering with the TPS is ineffective)

Profile photo of Eva Groeneveld
Member

Hi Brian, similarly, I am also registered with TPS and still get nuisance calls, so no, it is not the panacea. However, we still have it as part of the campaign to encourage those that do not yet know it exists to register with it, as there are businesses that do respect TPS registration and won’t call you if you are registered. We think it is important to encourage businesses to follow certain codes of good conduct, and getting them to be TPS Assured is one way.

Profile photo of MrsStrang
Member

Keep getting calls from a d/glazing company for a person who has never stayed at my address, fed up telling them, husband does not keep well so it’s a nuisance.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

For people that dont like the fact I blame the government for open house commercialism ,who could if they wanted, introduce legislation to stop it ,reply to Mrs Strang +Brian without patronising her ,telling her to spend money on a call-blocking service , or telling her to get a call-blocker if she cant afford it . To stop 10000,s of peoples lives being made a misery and making their heath bad or worse due to stress and even causing suicides ??? .And dont even think of the arrogant comment =well she could unplug her phone , try for once in their lives to stop thinking of BB and think like a human being ,its called humanitarianism something sadly lacking in this rip-off society . Those so called services that the government put in place to divert criticism of its policies dont work , and will never work until the government starts obeying the voters not BB.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

duncan, the answer may lie further back in this conversation so apologies if I am asking . What exactly can the government do to stop unwanted calls?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Under the Telecommunications Act the government has massive powers to force ALL communications companies to stop dead nuisance calls . They have proved their power over ALL ISP,s by Legislation in the direct routing of all lines through GCHQ and by other quietly done secretive Laws . In this digital age I am constantly surprised that an old guy like me knows more about the electronic circuitry in digital exchanges than many young people . What can you do on your PC/Laptop/Tablet/ Smart-phone/etc —??? -PROGRAM IT ! all they need top do is sit at a keyboard and change the programming . You know that you can make multiple changes to your own digital equipment ,well think of computers with enormous processing ability and stored memory they have total control over all communications . The government ,if they wanted to do, could stop all those calls ,stone dead by introducing Laws quickly just like they changed the Law in 5 minutes when I along with 10000,s of UK citizens wanted to see if we were on the governments “watch list ” a UK charitable organisation set up for us petitioned the government—and— when they saw they were on a loser they blocked the organisation BY LAW from representing us ,forcing us to apply individually therebye weakening our case just like they are doing to the Unions . But they wont act on this issue too much money is being made out of it . You trust petitions to the government ?? -over 500,000 petitioned blocking “The Donald ” from entering the UK -government -NOPE ! he can come in.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

DL, whilst legislation can be used to penalise offenders, you have to surely know who they are, and have them within your legislative area. So I would ask how the government can deal with callers from overseas, including withheld numbers. I would have thought that if I wanted to continue making “cold calls” I might just locate to another country, out of reach of the “authorities”.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Some “nuisance calls” come from local companies under the guise of marketing or research. There appears to be a general tolerance of such calls. What is a cold call? I get unwanted calls from a local estate agent – I have warned them that cold calling is prohibited and their well-practiced response is to say that I have given them my details; well, so I did, but I did not say they could ring me up at any time in the future to see if they could sell our house. The only way I have been able to stop that is to write to them and point out that in the event of selling I would not instruct an agent that had cold-called us and we would let our friends and neighbours know about their behaviour. Any sanction has to hit these people in their profits. The first step is identification. Perhaps that is one area in which the big ears of GCHQ could assist.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Malcolm, then tell me how GCHQ can deal with those people worldwide it doesnt like ,no matter how much they spoof /hide / use Tor etc . Malcolm they can target anybody and can trace those that hide their identity . Do you know the size of the NSA /CIA computer its massive in processing they can attack who they want and have done .

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

duncan, I’m not attempting to tell anything. I am just asking what I see as relevant questions.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Until somebody reports a call as being a nuisance, the telecommunications service provider has no idea that it is a nuisance call. This is the catch that has prevented much happening so far and it is difficult to see what the government can do other than outlaw certain forms of contact and empower the law enforcement agencies to put a stop to it.

At present nothing can be done until a nuisance call is reported, and spoofing or withholding the number easily foils that. The Ofcom website shows how ineffectual the whole system is in dealing with this issue. It includes an easy-to-read guide in baby language and pictures but it doesn’t solve the problem. I’m not concerned over what GCHQ does – it’s more than likely to be a good thing for 99% of the population – but I resent boiler-sellers and claims-chasers disturbing me at home or leaving unwanted messages.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

You’re right, DL: it needs legislation. But Governments everywhere are mainly reactive and rarely proactive. That’s exactly why we need organisations like Which?.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

That’s right. But Which? has been hammering away at this for a long time now, and there are many hefty Conversations and petitions to prove that, but the person at the other end doesn’t respond.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

We could pass the House of Commons’ switchboard number on to a few double Glazing companies, I suppose…

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

As a matter of interest, in the month since this Conversation started, has the Scottish government said anything about how it will address the problem in Scotland?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Telecommunications is Reserved to Westminster John there,s not a dam thing they can do . Grants given by the Scottish government for fibre in remote areas is the limit of their legal powers as well as planning in areas of dispute but telling a communications company to block calls -nope .

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

So has this particular Conversation, relating particularly to Scotland, been entirely irrelevant? The lead-in article seems to think there is legitimate scope for the Scottish government to do something, and I must admit I should not have thought any of the three suggestions made in the article were outwith the Scottish government’s capacity notwithstanding the reserved matters convention:
a. Cracking down on businesses breaking the rules and holding senior executives to account.
b. Helping vulnerable people to cut the number of nuisance calls they receive.
c. Ensuring that new Scottish Government policy doesn’t lead to more nuisance calls.

Who would dare stop them?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I rechecked John ,no definitely telecommunications/postal are reserved to Westminster . Who would dare stop them -I like that but their leader has vowed to go by the law and while a major issue like leaving the EU would cause a new referendum regardless of what cameron says a lot of the actual action in Scotland is, believe it or not , motivated by English people living there , English SNP supporters are even more forceful than many Scottish ones.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I know that telecommunications is within the purview of the UK Parliament exclusively, but that does not stop the Scottish executive from doing something to help vulnerable people to cut the number of nuisance calls they receive, for example – that is not in any way interfering with telecommunications services, it’s providing help to people who need it. It can also name and shame, if it wants to, any businesses that are found to have broken the rules on cold calling or other non-compliances [it would have to justify its actions but that doesn’t rule it out]. And the third point [“Ensuring that new Scottish Government policy doesn’t lead to more nuisance calls”] is so anodyne and extra-mural it’s not going to trouble the regulator nor the Secretary of State for BIS.

I think Eva Groeneveld has made some good points and should be supported in pushing for them. You never know, the Scottish Parliament could be given some degree of involvement in telecoms policy and development in Scotland as part of the devolution agenda and then what’s good for the Scots can be extended to the rest of the UK.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Another point in relation to the Scottish government taking action against some businesses is that,while most people in England think the SNP are very left-wing they arent a much as Westminster portrays they are actually helping businesses particularly small businesses . This has upset even more left -wing parties as they dont feel enough socialist policies are being implemented. But the SNP has to appeal to a wide range of people and thats why its doing well if it got too stroppy with businesses it could alienate them so I dont see their leader being the “upholder ” of any seemingly anti -business agenda. I could be wrong but reading Scottish newspapers including the “National ” an SNP leaning paper shows differences of opinion even among their own following.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Local authorities could do the first two of the three things called for by the Scottish campaign so it’s no big deal, and certainly not worth looking for political angles on it. And as Malcolm points out below, there’s nothing exceptionally Scottish about the problem or the solution to the nuisance calls issue, however, there might have a been a willingness by the Scottish government to do something in Scotland that was not evident in the UK government. Still waiting, though, it seems.

Profile photo of Eva Groeneveld
Member

Hi John, yes, a month has flown by. We have shared the campaign with Scottish Minsters and will talk to them about what they can do within their powers to tackle the issue. We are also talking to MSPs across the political spectrum in the Parliament about what measures will work best to tackle this problem. When we hear a concrete response from the Scottish Government, we will be sure let you know!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Eva, why is this centred on Scotland? Surely a proper solution to nuisance calls (if there is one) would be applicable to the UK and NI as a whole (as we are all one nation, still).

Profile photo of Eva Groeneveld
Member

Hi Malcolm, thanks for your question. This campaign in Scotland runs in parallel with our UK campaign which asks for action by the UK Government too (I responded to an earlier comment about the same thing). We wanted to bring specific asks to the Scottish Government as we feel there is also work they could be doing to stop this problem in Scotland. Our research shows that nuisance calls are a big problem for people in Scotland as much as it is people elsewhere, so we were keen to find a Scottish solution as well as a UK one. More info at http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/know-the-issue/

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Eva, thanks. Maybe I have missed something (I have not trawled back through the Convo) but why is it necessary to pursue this separately in Scotland if we are already asking for action from the UK government. Does this not include Scotland?

What practical action is proposed to actually stop unwanted calls, as opposed to punishing offenders after the event? If there is a method tp prevent calls by a technical method then that would apply throughout the UK and NI, would it not? Or is it that separate legislation is necessary in Scotland?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

malcolm ,as far as separate legislation required for Scotland , in the case of telecommunications ,and I have now checked 3 times, once with the Laws governing the devolved Scottish government in detail . it is not within the remit of the Scottish government to legislate separately for powers to demand/control the inner workings of BT or any other communications company operating in Scotland due to it being Reserved to Westminster , planning yes- grants yes, , but telling /legislating them to block calls —no. So I, like you, can only think that trying to put pressure on Westminster politically is the limit of their remit and since when has Westminster done as Hollyrood has said ,except fighting against it at every turn ? Just take the “”Vow “” as an example -reality is totally different from the fiction.

Profile photo of Eva Groeneveld
Member

Hi both, Malcolm and Duncan. This is a really interesting debate, and shows the high level of complexity of what powers lie where to tackle the problem. It is clearly an issue that affects a lot of people, and has to be taken much more seriously by all. We are hoping that by bringing this debate to the politicians, and allowing people’s experiences to be heard, it will be treated more as priority – by businesses, governments and regulators – and people will work together more to fix it.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Eva-I am encouraged by your words and hope that it will be treated as a priority as it effects people,s health as well . That people (from different political viewpoints) can work together I await to be reassured.

Member
Margaret Young. says:
7 January 2016

We had 5 nuisance calls within 2 days recently Today we’ve had 3. 1 when I had just signed the petition. The number was 05021 1315 478. Now I was dealing with my paraplegic husband at the time and this is just not on. Elderly, disabled people do not need this harassment.

Profile photo of StewartMcDonald
Member

I am not racist, but it is glaringly clear that nearly every call comes from a busy call centre which I suspect is in India judging by their accent. Is this merely a way out for companies not wishing to adhere to the regulations already in place in this country or is it simply cheaper to have the calls made from there. Either way, they refuse to give up, even after repeated requests to remove my number from their call list. It’s not the callers fault, they are just doing a job, so being angry with them has no effect upon anything, it’s the UK companies who employ these people who are probably happy just to find work, that need to be held accountable.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Stewart-In the case of BT (and others ) years ago it was decided to install -overseas “help “/call centres in India . It did not take long for complaints to start -#1- they always sung from the same hymn sheet-ie- no matter who you talked to you had to start from scratch again in doing tests -#2- 10000,s could not understand them (backed up over the years with complaints even on BT,s website -#3- they could not always help the customer and didnt try to interrogate headquarters at BT because they were scared of their jobs/didnt want to rock the boat . BT+others tried to ignore the complaints but it got so bad over the years that BT eventually decided to transfer its call-centre to England this it is doing as we speak. But there are still a lot of Indian-sub continent people who live in the UK who BT employ here but they have been told /picked to speak more distinctly and to escalate the problem if they cannot solve it . So yes it was done for money saving but it just gave BT a bad reputation . As I said before .now that they are moving , I would not be surprised if many in India are not happy about it and have used/sold customers data its human nature in a poor country.

Member
anne strang says:
8 January 2016

My husband works night shift……everyday we receive these calls. I would like their numbers to phone them up during their sleep!!!!!!!!

Member
Irene Fuller says:
9 January 2016

How many pesky phone calls have we had about a new boiler. Sometimes about 4 a day. We usually don’t answer when we hear it’s the boiler message. Anyway I have just answered and as usual it was an automated message and at the end it says “press 2 for a quote while we are in your area.” So I pressed 2 and got through to someone who asked how old my boiler was. I said it was a new boiler. She said “then why are you phoning”. I said because I want you to stop phoning me. She said…… “Ach SHUT UP” (she was definitely Scottish) and put the phone down on me. That was me put in my place !!! Good PR eh ???? I’m still laughing!!!

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Irene -did you get the telephone number if it is a Scottish accent then there is a good chance the call came from a UK exchange not from India or elsewhere ?

Profile photo of AaronFyvie
Member

Folks, TPS only works if your number has not been contacted. If you have had previous cold calls TPS cannot prevent that caller contacting you again. Only companies that haven’t.
I have waited til the end of the recorded message to be connected with the company who campaign to have every household insulated and fitted with a new boiler. Spoken to them in person three times!!! and still they persist. Calls from a contact centre in the far east or India asking for someone who clearly used to own my number. They too, depite even answering their questions on one occasion, just to get them to stop still contact me and asking for a MR R******, still contact me. In fact, a UK based company, who evidently use the data collected by this mob looking for Mr R, called me to try to sell me whatever sh*t they were selling, also addressing me as Mr R.
A complete and utter disgrace that people dont have the right to refuse these calls and are pestered at all hours. Please get it stopped.

Member
Jane Blackie says:
19 January 2016

The TPS doesn’t work — not on our landline, even UK calls, & definitely not for calls outwith the UK. One of our funniest calls was from a fraudster claiming (convincingly at first) to be from the TPS ! After sympathising with me & asking a few related questions, she then asked if I banked with Barclay’s Bank. Suspicious, I lied “Yes”. (I’ve never been a Barclay’s customer). Then she asked if my Visa card will expire on x month in x year : I replied “No” & put the phone down.

Profile photo of PaulineBain
Member

I keep getting an Orkney no and the company are not in Orkney so how have they the right to use an Orkney my family all live there and they have tried it and it is some company in England

Profile photo of alfa
Member

2 thoughts here.

I was getting nuisance calls from several numbers in a Scottish hamlet. Probably lots of spare numbers.

I also get nuisance calls from my local area code on my mobile. They must have my address and try to look local in an attempt to get me to answer my phone.

Profile photo of WilmaPunton
Member

I have joined the TPS and still get nuisance calls This past month I have had at least 4 calls asking me to take out a funeral plan I say No and they want to know why I then put the phone down I now do not answer the phone and use call back

Member
Joanna Lawson says:
28 January 2016

I work from home on work that requires concentration. This morning I have had five nuisance calls within two hours, and four were from the same mobile number. This appears to be from an individual rather than a company. I also had a similar call yesterday. I also had a recorded call this morning from 0191841498.

[This comment has been tweaked to remove contact details in line with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Profile photo of DonaldHopkins
Member

One of the tips you give is to join the Telephone Preference Service. I joined several years ago and it has not done a blind bit of difference.

Member
jO Giblin says:
1 February 2016

My sister bought me a BT Advanced Call Blocker phone and it works. No more unsolicited nuisance calls.

Profile photo of HarryJolly
Member

Some time ago my wife and I were woken at 2am by the phone.
I thought that one of my family was in trouble only to find out it was an automated call.

Member
D. Powell says:
26 February 2016

I agree that the tps seems to screen very few nuisance calls. It can’t screen calls from abroad and these are very often the most frequent offenders

Profile photo of RodBrown
Member

TPS will not handle automated calls and refer you to the ICO, who never seem to actually do anything, not even respond to complaints and if they do get involved, they hand out paltry fines to offenders who get millions from their calls!

Member
W Gray says:
29 February 2016

Always occur at the most inconvenient moment, time has to called on this form of personal abuse.

Profile photo of lorrainebracewell
Member

I had to change my number. It started every day at around 9.30 in the morning and would persist till gone 6 in the evening. One day alone I had 15 calls. I am registered with the TPS but no one took any notice when I told them and continued to phone me daily from the same number. The foreign call centres were the worst who did not display a number and who were quite aggressive too at times when I refused to engage with them. One operative told me the sooner I stopped talking and answered the questions the sooner I could get back to whatever I was doing. Now I do not give out my number to anyone but family and close friends and guard it strongly. The most distressing period was after the sudden death of my father when we had to answer the phone as all kinds of people were ringing us and the unsolicited calls were coming thick and fast. I said not to ring this number again as we were a recently bereaved family and the woman on the other end tried to make an appointment to ring me back the following week. It is a complete invasion of privacy at best and extremely distressing at worst and they all need to be closed down with immediate effect

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

They arent human beings lorraine they are the lowest form of animal life to do to you what they did when your father died is well ********* its disgusting !! I dont care how many of those reptiles complain about me saying that when people like you post my heart just goes out to you ,thats just me I cant stand injustice. They knowingly make your life a misery and only care about the “big bucks ” I have zero sympathy for them I would rather work as a street cleaner or a bin man than do what they do. I can only say that since I got my call-blocker in I have went from approx 15 calls/day to—ZERO ! The expense is worthwhile ,the ones usually complaining about owning a call-blocker here and in the US are representatives of BB or have shares in this type of thing. One website had the cheek to say people like me were “holding back ” Enterprise in this country – OMG !

Member
john gibson says:
8 March 2016

as my wife and me are old age pensioners we are fed up with it getting bothered ,the amount is disgraceful.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

John thats the problem –they wont stop — only a long prison sentence or a £100,000 fine every time they do it would work .This country has the ability to trace anybody so dont accept -oh ! its “impossible” to trace them, tell that to GCHQ ! If I ran the country they would be in a chain gang with massive publicity to deter others.

Profile photo of LynnMcMurray
Member

I,m sick of calls asking me 2 change me power company’s and also calls saying that I have entered a competition and got through 2 final but have 2 subscribe 2 certain companies. When I inform these callers that I,m not interested they have the cheek 2 hang up on me !

Member
Ian O'Donnell says:
13 March 2016

I get automated calls everyday informing me of an initiative to install a new boiler and solar panels in every household by 2016. As I am a council tenant these initiatives don’t apply to me and therefore the calls are invalid. I have explained this to their salesmen’ on a couple of occasions and asked to be removed from their database, but they don’t even answer me, they just hang-up. Something needs to done to stop these companies and like everyone else I’m totally fed-up with it!

Member
Kenneth Muir says:
16 March 2016

Government survey and boiler renewal junk calls: we have got many such calls, last at 9.46 am on 15/3/16 from 01212859455. Request to talk to a supervisor got the response, “I,m the supervisor”. The line then went dead.

Member
Pauline Julia Martin says:
18 March 2016

For 3yrs now I keep getting calls for a Mrs Russell whom I have never heard of and about selling stuff or getting discounts, they say my home number is in their data…they even got hold of my mobile number, I will definitely start taking a note of these companies from now on.