The Unseen Scale of Nuisance Communications

Quadient warns of unseen scale of nuisance communications, as email scams push total complaints up by 31% year-on-year
Freedom of Information request to ICO reveals energy industry is worst performing, as nuisance communications continue to rise

Quadient have released data showing that, despite nuisance calls and texts falling year-on-year, the scale of the problem is far larger than previously imagined. As scammers move to digital channels to create nuisance communications, Quadient warns that consumers, regulators, and legitimate businesses may struggle to keep up.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Quadient found that the number of nuisance automated and live calls and texts reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fell by 10% in 2023 – from 56,015 in 2022 to 50,687. This represents the second year in a row that complaints have declined, as some avenues for scammers become outdated. For instance, complaints about Covid-19 nuisance calls and texts reduced by 89% and, for the first time, there were zero complaints about PPI scams.

There were further indications of changing habits. Complaints about texts saw the largest fall, of 27% year-on-year, while live calls were the biggest nuisance, making up 38% of all complaints. This may not be a simple matter of volume: live calls and traditional sales tactics will also seem aggressive to people who do not want to make decisions on the fly.

For the first time, the ICO also included complaints about emails in its data – accounting for 37% of all complaints. This addition means the total number of complaints about nuisance communications was in fact 31% higher in 2023.

Andrew Stevens, Principal at Quadient, said,

“Including emails in the ICO’s nuisance communication data is a welcome development. Spam email has been an issue since 1978, so understanding how digital channels are used and abused is critical,” 

“If we cannot understand these digital channels, they will become a wild west, with scammers constantly evolving their tactics. Scammers already know that digital channels can produce the biggest bang for their buck. If we are to really understand the scale of the problem, and start addressing it, we need this level of understanding across all digital channels such as social media.”

The rise of cryptocurrency scams

The evolution of nuisance communications can also be seen in new categories of complaints in 2023. For the first time, the ICO recorded complaints about cryptocurrency, online trading, and investment scams. The 2,196 complaints recorded is already higher than traditional industries like energy supply (1,978).
While cryptocurrency and investments are an adjacent market to traditional banking, this rise should be worrying for the broader financial sector. Complaints about banking calls and texts fell by 2%, but the rise of cryptocurrency scams means consumers could be less trusting of legitimate communication from banks about trading or investments.

Surprisingly, despite investigating digital communications for the first time, live calls were still the most complained about in cryptocurrency, online trading, and investment. This could indicate that it is legitimate businesses trying to speak to customers rather than the automated calls, texts, and emails that we might associate with scammers. Conversely, automated calls were the most complained about for banking, suggesting that banks’ use of blanket messages to communicate with customers is falling flat.

“Given the ongoing news cycle around cryptocurrency, it’s encouraging that this is another area the ICO has started paying attention to,” continues Stevens.

“But the rise of cryptocurrency, trading, and investment complaints should be a warning to financial institutions to be more thoughtful in how they communicate with customers about these areas. How will cryptocurrency ever grow legitimately if consumers naturally think of it as a scam?

Financial organisations shouldn’t fall back on just putting out bland messaging to prevent being blocked, but need to think seriously about what channel and message they use.”

Unsolicited shocks: Energy customers charged up over spam

Most industries reduced the number of complaints about nuisance calls and texts in 2023. However, complaints about calls and texts in energy savings and home improvements, and energy supply increased by 69% and 29% respectively. For both categories, live calls were the most complained about (73% and 97% respectively), and it was only text complaints that reduced (33% and 62% respectively).

With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and a continual increase in energy bills, it’s not surprising that consumers feel the most disillusioned by the energy industry. The fact that live calls were the most complained about shows companies are clearly not communicating in the right manner, even when speaking directly to consumers, and this is damaging their reputation.

“Energy companies have historically delivered bad news well, but don’t communicate good news effectively,” continued Stevens.

“As a result, consumers expect every piece of communication to be negative, and so may not spot some positive news or advice. With the closure of the Government’s energy bill discount scheme, it is likely that consumers will view any communication about energy, no matter if it’s about how to save or not, as a nuisance. Organisations need to ensure they are not only being thoughtful in how and where they’re communicating with customers, but also provide proactive advice and support rather than just selling products.”



Quadient is the driving force behind the world’s most meaningful customer experiences. By focusing on three key solution areas, Intelligent Communication Automation, Parcel Locker Solutions and Mail-Related Solutions, Quadient helps simplify the connection between people and what matters. Quadient supports hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide in their quest to create relevant, personalised connections and achieve customer experience excellence. Quadient is listed in compartment B of Euronext Paris (QDT) and is part of the CAC® Mid & Small and EnterNext® Tech 40 indices.

For additional information about Quadient visit their Website

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