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The Scottish Government defines nuisance calls as:

Unwanted phone calls that attempt to promote a product, service, aim or ideal that can cause the recipient a range of harm, from annoyance to lasting detriment, including emotional or financial damage.

This means a nuisance call is one where

  • you did not ask them to call you
  • they try to sell you or tell you about something
  • you could end up feeling annoyed or upset
  • you could end up losing money

Nuisance calls are also known as 'unsolicited calls', 'unwanted calls' and 'cold calling'.

Types of nuisance call

There are different types of nuisance call.

These include:

Live marketing and sales calls

These are calls where there's a real person on the other side who's:

  • trying to sell you something
  • promoting a product or service
  • trying to sign you up to something, like a charity donation

Recorded marketing and sales calls

These are calls where you hear a recorded message trying to sell you something or promote a product.

The message might also ask you to press a button to speak to someone.

Abandoned calls

These are recorded messages saying that a business has tried to contact you but there was nobody available to talk to you.

These usually happen in call centres with automatic dialling systems. If the centre's system calls you but none of its staff are available to talk to you when you answer, you'll get the recorded message instead.

These messages may not be trying to sell you something, but they're still considered nuisance calls because they can still be upsetting and unwanted.

Silent calls

These are when you answer the phone and nobody replies.

Although these are known as 'silent' calls, you may still hear other people talking in the background (but not to you).

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