Nuisance calls to mobiles on the rise

New Which? research has revealed, despite a crackdown on unwanted calls over the past two years, mobile phone users are still receiving a large number of nuisance calls with many not realising they could register their mobile number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

As Which? launches a new free text service to help people combat nuisance calls, our survey found, in the space of a month, one in ten (10%) mobile phone users reported they’d received more than 20 unwanted calls. Our latest research shows that nuisance calls to mobile phones are on the rise with seven in ten (72%) saying they had at least one call to their mobile compared to more than half (55%) in 2013.

However, Ofcom and Telephone Preference Service (TPS) data reveals, of the 78.9m active mobile phone subscriptions in the UK, just 3% (2.4m) are registered with the TPS. While two thirds (65%) are aware of the TPS, we found only around a third (36%) of people said they think that the TPS could be used to block unsolicited calls to mobiles compared to almost all (96%) who thought it could be used with landlines. Each individual number has to be logged with the TPS.

Which? has worked with the TPS to launch a brand new free text service (text OPTOUT to 80057) which allows people to register their mobile phone numbers.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“With the number of nuisance calls to mobile phones on the rise, it’s vital people register their phone if they want to help protect themselves from this everyday menace.

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

More than 280,000 people have backed our Calling Time campaign, and a number of major companies have also publicly pledged their support.

The nuisance calls and texts task force, led by Which?, has outlined recommendations to introduce tougher rules and more action from businesses, the regulators and the Government.

We want:

  • The Government to make senior executives accountable for their company’s unlawful nuisance calls, and require businesses to show their number when they call;
  • Businesses to support our campaign by making a public commitment to tackle nuisance calls; and
  • Regulators to give people more power by putting them in control of how their personal data is used.

Notes to editors

  1. People can report unwanted calls for free by texting OPTOUT to 80057 and Which? will send you the simple steps to help stop nuisance calls.
  2. Our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign has been supported by more than 280,000 people. There have been more than 65,000 uses of the Which? nuisance calls reporting tool, enabling people to complain to the regulators.
  3. Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2,097 UK adults between 4 and 6 September 2015. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults.

For 2013 figure: Populus interviewed a representative sample of 2,065 UK adults online between 25 and 26 September 2013.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults.

Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

  1. In December 2014, the Which?-led Task Force made 15 recommendationsfor business, regulators and the Government. The recommendations focused on:

Calling on businesses to improve their direct marketing practices

  • Businesses should make compliance with the rules on consumer consent a board level matter, with senior executives held to account for the behaviour of their company.
  • Companies should allow consumers to easily revoke consent to being contacted and view Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance on a six-month time limit for third party consent as the minimum standard.
  • Marketing companies should ensure any sales leads they buy have been fairly and legally obtained and that they have a record of consumer consent being given.

Urging further action by the regulators

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) should take account of the task force findings in any work it undertakes on the commercial use of personal data. The CMA should work with other regulators to understand issues which cause consumer harm and identify action to remedy problems.
  • The ICO should develop further practical solutions to causes of nuisance calls; and develop best practice for providing information to consumers, including wording for how people opt-in and opt-out of being contacted for marketing purposes.

Recommended action for Government

  • Government should lead a cross-sector business awareness campaign to ensure companies know their responsibilities when it comes to making marketing calls and texts; and consider how future legislation could tackle nuisance marketing, including making senior executives more responsible for the actions of their company.

Since publishing, the CMA has committed to reviewing personal data and the Government has committed funding to an awareness campaign. However action is still needed on other task force recommendations.

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