Nuisance calls complaints surged in the UK during pandemic

landline phone
(Image credit: / Gajus)

Complaints about nuisance calls and messages skyrocketed during the last three months of 2020, according to Ofcom and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

The two organisations collaborate on the issue and implement action plans designed to combat the volume and impact of harmful, fraudulent, and distressing communications.

The ICO tackles live and recorded marketing calls, as well as nuisance text messages, while Ofcom takes the lead on silent and abandoned calls. The communications watchdog also works with operators on the issue and provides research, technical assistance, and advice to consumers.

Nuisance calls

Across the calendar year, complaints about calls and messages actually decreased, but Ofcom saw an 83% rise between September and December and the ICO reported a 27% increase.

It is unclear whether Covid is causing the increase in complaints, but scams related to the pandemic have increased significantly over the past year.

The public’s concerns and desire for information about the virus, vaccines, and financial matters have been a vast source of material for criminals to base their scams on. These scams have included not only malicious communications, but also cyber-attacks.

Ofcom and the ICO published a joint-action plan back in May that outlined plans to take action against individuals or organisations that don’t follow the regulations, to raise awareness and to tackle Covid-related scams, and to work with telcos to boost their ability to disrupt and prevent nuisance calls.

The plan also includes provisions for working with other regulators and enforcement agencies, including intelligence sharing not just in the UK, but with international counterparts.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.