The ten nuisance callers driving us mad

Who is calling, and how can you avoid them?

Updated: 

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Ofcom has released a list of the ten most common types of nuisance call. PPI claim firms still top the list, but the proportion of cold calls on this subject has actually fallen.

So what are the growing trends, and how can you stop getting these calls?



Trends

Ofcom found that PPI claims companies still make up 13% of all the unwanted sales calls people get at home. This is down from 22% in 2013, but it's still by far the most common reason why you'll be called.

The fastest-growing types of calls were from companies offering home and loft insulation (which currently make up 8% of calls - up from 2% last year), those offering solar panels (which account for 6% of calls - up from 2% last year) and those offering home improvements such as kitchens and windows (which make up 7% of nuisance calls - up from 3%).

The top ten:

PPI claims 13%
Insurance 9%
Home and loft insulation 8%
Market research 8%
Home improvements such as kitchens and windows 7%
Energy companies 7%
Solar panels 6%
Phone and broadband 5%
Financial services and products 5%
Accident claims compensation 4%

Ofcom also found another annoying trend continues to grow. This is 'number spoofing', where cold calling companies mask their number or show a different number altogether - so people who are screening their calls will pick up.

In most cases these calls are from human beings - which make up 38% of calls. However, silent calls are still a major problem - accounting for 37% of calls (up from 34% last year) and 12% are recorded calls.

Protect yourself

Ofcom has pledged to tackle the problem. It is pursuing a number of companies suspected of making silent and abandoned calls. Most recently, an investigation was opened into Ageas 50 Limited, trading as RIAS and Castle Cover.

In the first three months of this year, it has also taken informal action against 20 companies. As a result, complaints about telephone numbers used by nine of these have stopped, while complaints have fallen significantly for four. Ofcom continues to gather evidence in seven cases.

However, if you want to cut down on the nuisance calls you are receiving, there are a number of steps you should take yourself.
  • When you sign up for anything, take a closer look at the marketing opt-in or opt-out box, and make sure you are definitely completing it to say you don't want to be contacted. Sometimes these can be confusingly worded.
  • Register with the telephone preference service by phoning 0845 070 0707. It's now illegal for companies to call you if you are registered - unless you have given them separate permission to call you.
  • Talk to your phone provider about blocking certain numbers or types of numbers. The providers charge different fees for this, but check and see whether this service is worth the expense.
  • Consider a call blocker - a device that attaches to your phone. These can block certain types of call - or can ask the caller to give their name before being put through.
  • Consider going ex-directory, to stop businesses finding your number.
  • Get a phone which displays the number calling, so you can choose whether or not to answer unknown numbers. In some cases your phone provider will charge you for this information. It's worth finding out the cost and making a decision as to whether you are willing to pay for the ability to screen calls.