Ofcom has proposed a new rule to prevent consumers being harassed by repeated silent calls. The rule aims to stop a company calling an answer phone more than once in any 24-hour period, unless a call centre agent is on hand to answer the call. This would mean that consumers currently worst affected would no longer receive repeat silent calls over the course of a day.
Seventy per cent of the complaints Ofcom receives about silent calls are from consumers receiving two or more silent calls a day from the same company, often over a period of days or weeks. Ofcom confirmed that the vast majority of these calls are caused by automated calling systems used by call centres to contact large numbers of people in one go.
“These systems can be beneficial to both companies and consumers, for example when a bank needs to quickly alert thousands of customers about a potential fraud,” an Ofcom statement said.
“But sometimes technology used by call centres to detect answer machines will mistake a live consumer for an answering machine and cut off the call without the person hearing anything, resulting in a silent call.”
Subject to consultation, the new rules would come into force early next year.
Ofcom said that since the introduction of existing rules to stamp out silent and abandoned calls, it has seen a reduction in complaints to its own advisory team (from 1,300 in October 2008 to 825 in March 2010), as well as to BT’s nuisance calls bureau (5,000 in October 2008 down to 775 in March 2010).