NEWS17 September 2010

UK legislators vote to raise silent call penalty to £2m

Government UK

UK— MPs have approved a proposal that could see companies fined up to £2m for making silent calls to householders.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom lobbied for tougher penalties against companies that make silent calls earlier this year and as a result of the parliamentary vote the maximum fine will be raised from £50,000 to £2m from the end of September.

Ofcom says that the majority of silent calls in the UK are made by automatic dialling systems, which are commonly used by telemarketing companies but are also used for large-scale telephone survey recruitment.

Rules state that the number of silent calls generated by a call centre must not exceed more than 3% of the total call volume each day and that when a silent call is generated a recorded information message should kick in two seconds after the homeowner answers the call.

The Market Research Society has published its own regulations for using auto-diallers in research, available for download here.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “Ofcom welcomes the decision to increase the penalty to £2m for companies breaching rules on silent and abandoned calls. The increase reflects the potential seriousness of the harm caused to consumers by the unsolicited and intrusive nature of silent and abandoned calls and enables Ofcom to effectively regulate these activities.”