What are nuisance calls?
Nuisance calls can come in a variety of difference shapes and sizes, but are most commonly unwanted marketing calls. These can be either live sales calls or calls where a pre-recorded message is played to you.
The main aim of these calls is to gather information to pass on as leads, or to promote a product or service to you.
Most legitimate companies do not make nuisance calls, as it is not in their interests and they risk heavy fines if caught doing so. They do from time to time make mistakes but are usually quick to address a problem.
Of greater concern are the group responsible for the majority of nuisance calls, those who are illegal and frequently off shore businesses. It is often difficult for the authorities to take any meaningful action against this group as they are operating illegally with no legitimate business or company registration or are even outside the UK and Europe.
The numbers they call from may be bogus or simply withheld. Research for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has shown that around 20% of marketing calls do not provide a valid caller ID. They also commonly use generic sounding company names or names that closely resemble legitimate businesses, making it impossible to genuinely identify them and often causing confusion with legitimate operators.
Whilst there is often no direct action that can be taken against these operators as they cannot be traced, some do have links to legitimate businesses in order to make a return on the leads they have acquired. So it is important to remember that if you receive this type of nuisance call to report it to the relevant authorities, as regulators may be able to use the information you can provide to trace the scam callers.
The ICO has received more than 170,000 complaints about nuisance calls in 2015, up from 160,000 two years earlier. However Consumer group Which? stated that this figure was the "tip of the iceberg", as their research has shown that only 2% of people who received unwanted calls reported them.