Complaints about nuisance calls and spam texts on the up

Complaints about unsolicited marketing calls and texts remain a “major concern”, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which said that reports from people concerned about spam text and nuisance calls increased last year. 

Call Centre

In its annual report the ICO said it received 161,720 complaints in the year to the end of March, a 4 per cent increase on the 155,425 reports the year before. The majority of those related to PPI and claims management, debt management and green energy deals.

The ICO has upped its focus on direct marketing in the last couple of years. It launched an online reporting tool in March last year and updated its guidance on direct marketing in September.

That resulted in five civil monetary penalties relating to marketing calls and texts totalling nearly half a million pounds, as well as seven prosecutions for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

The increase in complaints comes as the ICO warns that data use is getting more complicated. It highlights the launch of, Facebook’s recent research which altered the updates users saw to influence their mood and the Google “right to be forgotten” ruling as reasons why data is moving higher up the public agenda.

In total, the ICO handled 259,903 calls to its helpline and resolved 15,492 data complaints, in both cases an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to the previous year. Freedom of information complaints were also up 12 per cent to 5,296.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham says: “Facebook,, Google: it is clear that organisations’ use of data is getting ever more complicated. People need to know someone is watching over their information.
“The last twelve months have been a record year – more complaints resolved than ever, more enforcement action taken and more advice given through our helpline.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here