THEY have been slammed as a scourge of modern society.

Every week, millions of people in Scotland and across the UK receive unsolicited calls on their mobile and home phone numbers.

A host of studies carried out into their occurrence reveal the alarming extent to which such nuisance calls and texts are invading our everyday lives.

Loading article content

A survey by uSwitch, the price comparison website, reported that nearly 90% of people living in the UK receive phone calls from withheld numbers. As many as 40% receive one at least once per week, with 9% being on the receiving end at least one per day.

And the problem is as pronounced on mobile phones as it is on landlines. Research canvassed by Which? concluded that, over the course of a recent month, more than eight in 10 consumers report receiving an unsolicited call on their landline. Just under half stated they received an unsolicited text on their mobile phone.

Worryingly, this invasion of privacy comes despite surveys showing that the majority of consumers are opting to not share personal data or their mobile phone number with third parties.

Even consumers who have signed up to the Telephone Preference Service, the official opt-out register for people who do not wish to receive unsolicited calls, cannot escape entirely.

While many of us dismiss these calls as an unhelpful annoyance, they carry more of a threat for others.

One-third of consumers surveyed by consumer watchdog Which? said they felt intimidated by nuisance calls, while there is evidence that some of the most vulnerable people in society are being tricked by fraudsters into handing over financial details in such calls.

That threat has been highlighted by Ukash, an online cash payment system, which published research revealing that 49% of carers think the elderly are too trusting with their money and 24% of carers know of an elderly person who has been targeted by fraudsters.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at, said the rise of cold callers is having a negative effect on the way we use our home and mobile phones.

He said: "Nuisance calls are the scourge of a modern society that shares data, and lots of it. The result is intensely irritating cold calls, automated voice messages and unsolicited texts.

"Worse still are telephone scams that swindle vulnerable people out of money. Some people are too frightened to answer their home phones and many won't answer their mobiles if they don't recognise the caller's number, which partly negates the point of having a phone and being contactable in the first place."

Thankfully, the problem has not gone unnoticed. The UK Government recently unveiled its Nuisance Calls Action Plan, which could see firms fined up to 20% of turnover for using information gathered by unsolicited calls and texts.

The details were unveiled as the Government reported that 120,310 complaints were received by the Information Commissioner's Office, which deals with unsolicited marketing calls, and Ofcom, which deals with silent and abandoned calls - often from automated dialling systems - between December and April.

David Cox, head of customer experience at Ukash, said: "By imposing stringent fines on organisations which fail to follow the regulations, we are moving closer to ending the barrage of unsolicited calls received daily across the UK.

"There is still a long way to go to ensure households are completely safe from the threat of fraudsters, but the Nuisance Calls Action Plan is certainly a step in the right direction."