News Release issued by
the COI News Distribution Service on 24 September 2010
Firms which pester
consumers with silent and abandoned calls will be fined up to
£2million from tomorrow under new Government legislation.
The new fine is 40 times larger than the previous maximum limit
of £50,000. The intention of the penalty is to send a clear
message that businesses must abide by the rules or face serious consequences.
Silent calls are generated when call centres use predictive
dialling systems to call more numbers than there is staff
available to speak to the person who answers.
Ofcom will now have the power to use the fine to penalise and
deter firms from persistently making these calls.
Minister for Communications, Ed Vaizey, said:
“Silent calls are incredibly unnerving, particularly for the
elderly and those who live alone. Government will not stand by and
let firms plague consumers without consequence which is why we
have made the maximum penalty for silent calls 40 times larger to
reflect the seriousness of the issue.
“Ofcom can now put this fine into action in the most serious of
cases and they will also work with us to ensure consumers know
where to get help if they are a victim of persistent silent and
The penalty has been applied through an amendment to the
Communication Act 2003 and will also be applicable to cases
including for example:
number scanning withholding calling line identification
facilitiesabusing systems for dishonest gainmisusing allocated
Notes to editors:
1. The amendment to introduce the new penalty was passed in the
Houses of Parliament on Thursday, 16 September 2010.
2. Ofcom research into the issue, carried out between October and
December 2009, found that 47% of adults felt ‘very inconvenienced’
by silent calls and 32% were ‘very concerned’. During the same
period, 3,500 consumers contacted BT’s Nuisance Calls Bureau and
in February 2010, over 14,000 callers to the Bureau listened to
recorded advice on silent calls. Ofcom received over 6,500
complaints about silent calls in 2009.
3. The current framework for regulating silent and abandoned
calls is set out in the Communications Act 2003. The Act provides
powers to Ofcom to take action against those who persistently
misuse networks or services in a way that causes, or is likely to
cause, unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, but which
falls short of a criminal offence.
4. On 10 September 2008, Ofcom published a revised statement of
policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications
network or service, which tightened up the rules concerning the
usage of ACS. The previous penalty of £5,000 was increased to
£50,000 in April 2006. Ofcom has since then successfully pursued 9
cases against companies which were found to have generated
unacceptably high levels of silent and or abandoned calls. It has
issued financial penalties in each case and also has an ongoing
5. Ofcom’s guidelines on persistent misuse of ACS can be found
6. Consumer helplines and website info:
BT’s (Easiserve) line where they speak to an advisor about
silent calls 0800 661441
Ofcom’s complaints line0300 123
Telephone Preference System (TPS) registration - where
individuals can register their wish not to receive unsolicited
sales and marketing telephone calls.0845 070
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BIS Press Office
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