In horror movies from previous decades, a common scene of terror was the phone ringing – who was on the other end, and what terrifying things were they about to say? But modern mobile phones have condensed this panic into a few brief moments, when people look at the screen of their ringing phone to see ‘unknown’ or a number they do not recognise.

It’s therefore no surprise to learn that a significant number of people in Scotland (28%) who prefer to miss calls from people they do not know said that they avoid picking up for withheld numbers, with a similar proportion (27%) saying they don’t answer for numbers they do not recognise. Furthermore, 5.4% of Scottish respondents said they refused to answer their phone if the caller’s number begins with 08.

The research, from the Debt Advisory Centre Scotland (DACS), also found that 49% of people in the UK as a whole do not answer calls from people they don’t know, compared with 55% in Scotland. People aged over 55 were found to be the most likely to answer the phone for unknown numbers, perhaps reflecting the fact that this demographic are particularly likely to use landlines rather than smartphones, and therefore may be unaware that they are answering the phone to a potentially unwanted caller.

DACS spokesman Ian Williams explained that many people begin to receive a higher number of calls from unknown numbers when they start to get into debt problems, as lenders make increasingly concerted efforts to get in touch with their debtors. In some cases, this can lead to people refusing to answer the phone altogether.

However, he pointed out that refusing to answer the phone can see debt problems escalate, and that people who are receiving an increasing number of calls from creditors ought to consider seeking professional advice so they can begin to deal with their debts.

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