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Four in five UK landlines receive nuisance phone calls

Wednesday, May 27th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Nuisance phone calls are a problem for more than four in five UK adults with a landline, according to an Ofcom report.

The telecoms regulator found that 86% of those participating in its study experienced a nuisance call in a four-week period.

More than half of those taking part (52%) received a recorded sales call – up from 37% in 2014 and 38% in 2013 – and 70% reported receiving a live sales call.

Six in 10 (60%) received a silent call – where there seems to be no one on the line but there is background noise.

17% received an abandoned call – a recorded message saying an organisation has tried to contact you but there is no one available to speak to you.

Those who received nuisance calls received an average of about 10 in the four-week period, just over two a week.

Three in 10 (32%) received more than 10 nuisance calls in the four weeks, and 12% received more than 20 such calls.

Ofcom reported no significant difference in the amount of calls received compared to 2014 or 2013.

An Ofcom spokesperson told Cable.co.uk: “Ofcom is cracking down on silent and abandoned calls, placing £2m in fines on companies that have breached the rules.

“Nuisance calls is a complex and challenging area, but we will continue to work closely with other regulators, the government, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem together.”


Calls about PPI claims made up almost a quarter (23%) of all nuisance calls where it was possible to identify a service or product. This is up from 13% last year.

PPI claims calls also accounted for 45% of abandoned calls and recorded sales calls.

Participants in the study were asked to rate whether each of the nuisance calls they received was ‘annoying’, ‘distressing’, ‘useful’ or ‘not a problem’.

80% of calls were described as annoying, with 12% reported as not being a problem and 5% as distressing. Only 1% of calls were thought to be useful.

Calls about accident claims (88%), PPI claims (86%), market research (84%) and TV insurance (83%) were the most likely to be considered annoying.

Charity (53%) and broadband/phone-related calls (60%) were the least likely to be found annoying.

Earlier this month, Cable.co.uk reported that BT's Home SmartPhone SII – a touchscreen home phone – comes with nuisance call blocking technology.

BT claims users can block up to 80% of unwanted calls, including those from international numbers, withheld numbers and unknown numbers.

Earlier this year, a change in the law was made to give better protection to people who receive nuisance calls.

The change makes it easier for the Information Commissioner's Office to intervene in cases and impose fines of up to £500,000 against companies.

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