There has been a significant rise in the number of nuisance promotional calls targeting Chinese consumers in recent years, the Legal Daily reported.

A small businessman surnamed Zhang in Tianjin in northeastern China has been receiving more than double the number of calls he normally gets since he took out a loan online. Many of them are promotional calls regarding management and marketing courses, while others are increasingly intrusive low-interest loan promotions from companies that seem suspiciously familiar with his personal situation.

A young woman surnamed Wang complained that she had been receiving a wide range of nuisance calls after graduating from secondary school. While at university she received promotional calls for computer science or English classes, and she graduated she started receiving calls regarding civil service preparation courses.

She was sometimes shocked to find that the callers knew her full name and employment status. In order to stop the nuisance calls, she installed a special blocker application on her smartphone.

On the QQ platform – a popular instant messaging platform for PCs and mobiles owned by Tencent – there are numerous groups offering both personal data and cold-call services at low prices, an undercover reporter found.

One of the groups claimed to be supported by technology firms involved in data collection, data processing, and data analysis.

When asked about its prices, it said it could provide 10,000 individuals’ personal information for 800 yuan (US$110). For 3,500 yuan, it could provide 50,000 individuals’ name, telephone number and sex, as well as their consumer preferences.

Another QQ group offered the reporter cold-call services for 1,000 yuan for every 10,000 minutes of phone time.

None of the groups would reveal the sources of the personal data they offered to sell.