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It's time to deal with nuisance calls and texts

The phone rings, your mobile beeps, and your stomach sinks when you realise it’s another unwanted telemarketing call or text. We want these to stop.

Update 26th February 2015:

We are delighted that the government has recently announced, in line with our campaign recommendations, additional powers for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). But more needs to be done.

As part of our campaign we recently commissioned Claire Milne MBE, visiting Senior Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, to carry out a comparative policy analysis of legal and regulatory approaches to nuisance calls in numerous countries around the world. To our knowledge it is the first of its kind.

Her report (PDF) demonstrates that the UK, despite some recent advances, still lags behind other countries in its approach to nuisance calls (download the Combatting nuisance calls appendix and texts PDF to find out more). However, the report presents policy makers with some practical options for how they can move us to where we need to be in terms of consumer protection and shows how more can be done regarding international co-operation.

Our response to this report (PDF) highlights which of these options would best protect financially vulnerable families bombarded with nuisance calls. They address critical holes in the UK regulatory environment.

  • They switch the UK from an opt-out to an opt-in telephone preference service
  • They further increase the powers of regulators to fine offenders and ensure fine levels are related to the seriousness of offences
  • They increase the ability of the watchdog to identify wrongdoing
  • They increase the security offered to consumers considering a high-risk product offered over the telephone.

Our original Got Their Number campaign

Got Their Number Statistics

Tweet your support

In order to encourage regulators to take more decisive action on unsolicited calls, we need evidence of just how out of hand the problem has become.

If like us you've had enough of unsolicited and unwanted contact from telemarketers, tweet us your experiences with unsolicited contact with the hashtag #GotTheirNumber. If you have received texts from telemarketers we'd love to have them too. If possible include a screen capture of the text you received alongside your tweet. (Find out how to take a screen capture on a mobile phone.)

You can also email us with your thoughts and screengrabs at gottheirnumber@stepchange.org.

32 percent of people contacting our helpline have received unsolicited calls offering payday loans

Unsolicited calls and texts: what we want

We want a closer look at unsolicited contact for the following reasons:

  1. Increased power for regulators – it should be easier to fine firms breaking data protection rules and for people to get compensation if their data is misused.
  2. Changes to ensure you know who has your data – we want to give the control back to you and stop personal details being sent to firms you don’t trust.
  3. A ban on unsolicited calls offering high-risk credit products – we believe allowing calls like these, selling high-interest loans and fee-charging debt management services, is harming vulnerable consumers.
  4. A strengthened Telephone Preference Service – the TPS is there to protect you but it just isn’t working. It’s time for action, starting with a system to block nuisance calls from overseas.
  5. Controls on aggressive debt collection – because some firms are acting badly and unreasonably bombarding people with calls and texts.

How to deal with nuisance calls

Follow these practical tips to manage nuisance calls and texts:


orange phoneDon't answer the phone with your personal details or leave them on your voice message either.


purple phoneForward any texts from an unknown marketer to your network's reporting number. O2, Orange and T-Mobile use the number 7726, Vodafone use 87726 and 3 use 37726. You can also send it to the Information Commissioner (details below).


orange phoneMake sure the person on the other end of the phone gives you their details first.



purple phoneComplain to the Information Commissioner on 0303 123 1113 or email them at casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk.


Visit our resources page for more information.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,017 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 23rd September 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

All submissions will remain anonymous unless requested. We reserve the right not to use all submissions. Submissions may be used in other media.

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You can help us by:

  1. Telling your Twitter followers about our campaign by sending a tweet of support
  2. Tweeting us about your experiences of nuisance calls to @moneyaware using hashtag #GotTheirNumber
  3. Emailing your stories about telemarketers or screengrabs of unsolicited texts to gottheirnumber@stepchange.org

Our campaign progress

Nuisance calls and texts help on the blog

Dealing with spam texts

Put a stop to them once and for all

How to complain about nuisance calls and texts

Which? has some great advice on unwanted contact

Targeted by payday loan spam texts?

8 million of these are sent every day

Visit our MoneyAware blog

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

We link to external websites where they contain relevant information for our visitors. We're not responsible for the content of these websites, or any infringement on your data rights under data protection regulations by any external website provider.

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