Effectiveness of actions to reduce harm from nuisance calls in Scotland

Research commissioned to analyse the impact of actions set out in the Nuisance Calls Commission action plan, and to examine the outcomes of past interventions.

Annex I: Nuisance call complaints systems

There are three “official” portals for consumer complaints about nuisance calls, run respectively by ICO, TPS and Ofcom, and one for scams: Action Fraud. In addition, Which? now provides a front end to these; and some network operators provide nuisance call support to customers, including the possibility of making a complaint. For this study we have looked at the ICO, TPS, Ofcom, Action Fraud and Which? systems and summarise our findings below.

Figure 51: Channels available for complaining

Channel Online Webchat Email Telephone Post Remarks
ICO Yes Page directs to relevant places (though some links are out of date). Gives expected completion time.
TPS Yes Yes Can phone to request complaints form, but not to complain.
Ofcom Yes Yes Yes Page directs to relevant places; Ofcom deals only with silent & abandoned calls.
Action Fraud Yes Yes Yes Yes Not clearly suited to phone scams, unless fraud is in progress.
Which? Yes Claims to forward complaints to the relevant place.

Figure 52: Online complaints procedure

Channel Pages of form Pages of instructions Obligatory fields Optional fields Categories in drop-down menus Remarks
ICO 3 1 10 10 22 Allows up to 5 calls to be complained about at one time, and personal details to be reused if complaining again within a month.
TPS 5 1 24 6 12, 32 Must know company or number to use this.
Ofcom 1 2 16 5 - Tricky Captcha hurdle.
Which? 3 0 8 2 21 In at least the TPS case, routes to TPS (to start again), despite company and calling number being unknown.

The options in the ICO and TPS drop-down menus are shown below (those in the Which? form are almost the same as ICO’s). Ofcom’s diary survey categories are also shown for comparison. The highlights show how scams and surveys are described in these different lists. These options may confuse complainants and lead to similar experiences being differently categorised by different people, as well as by different systems.

TPS: first dropdown menu
Sales and marketing call
Market research
Recorded message
Silent call (whereupon answering there is silence)
Reverse call request
Debt collection
Overseas call
SMS (text) alerts
Text message
Scam calls
Suppression services that charge a fee
Other (Nuisance, Abusive, Threatening)
Ofcom diary research
Market research/ Survey
Computer/ maintenance/ support
Scam calls e.g. banking/computer/passwords etc.
Home improvement e.g. boilers/ windows
Phone/ Broadband
Insurance (car/ health/ life etc.)
Government schemes/grants/initiatives
Financial Services/ products
Accident claims/ compensation
Energy company
Debt repayment/advice/consolidation
Banking/ Credit card
TPS: second dropdown menu
Adult Content
Cleaning (including Home, Car, Carpet, Window, Oven)
Commercial Suppression Services (including Call Blockers)
Debt Management i.e. Debt consolidation
Energy Efficiency Installations (Solar Panels, grants etc.)
Energy Supplier (Gas, Electricity etc)
Financial Services (e.g. Credit Card, mortgage, Pensions etc)
Flight Delays
Gambling - i.e. lottery
Health and Wellness - Alternative Medicine
Holiday (e.g. offers on city breaks, cruises etc)
Home Improvement - (Double Glazing, Kitchen, Windows etc.)
Home Security - (Alarms etc.)
Insurance (Including car, life and home)
Investment (including wine, minerals, stocks and shares etc)
Lead Generation/ Lifestyle Surveys (Attempting to gain consent for marketings calls)
Mobility Equipments (Mobility Scooters, Stair lift aid etc.)
Other Home Improvements
Payment Protection Insurance Claim ( PPI)
Personal Injury Compensation - (car accident, trip and fall, work related injury i.e. hearing loss etc.)
Prank Calls
Price Comparison (Insurance, broadband, etc.)
Ruined Holiday (Packaged holiday not as contracted, food poisoning etc)
Satellite tv
Scams (Including calls offering technical support for a computer)
Short term loan i.e. pay day loan
Telecoms - (Landline, Mobile, Broadband)
Warranty (including Satellite TV and Household items)
Will writing
Accident claims
Adult content
Broadband, phone, TV or other telecoms services
Call blockers
Computer scams - you should report these to Action Fraud
Debt management
Energy saving and home improvements, including double glazing, windows and insulation
Energy supply
Insurance (including car, life and home)
Lifestyle surveys
Oven cleaning
Payday loans
Payment Protection Insurance ( PPI)
Silent / no answer - you should report these to Ofcom


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