Ofcom rules could see silent callers fined £2m

Ofcom is warning telemarketers to comply with new regulations to clamp down on silent calls or face fines of up to £2m.

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New rules aimed at preventing consumers receiving repeated silent calls from the same company come into force tomorrow (1 February).

The regulator has been left frustrated in the past that it could only issue a maximum fine of £50,000 but new powers mean repeated offenders could be fined up to £2 million.

It handed Barclaycard the maximum fine in 2008 and has issued 22 penalties since.

Silent calls happen when a company’s automated calling systems dials more numbers than there is staff available to answer the phone.

New rules will prevent a company using answer machine detection equipment more than once a day if an answer machine is ’detected’ on the first attempt.

Ofcom says it received more than 9,000 complaints in 2010 about silent calls, with over 70% of consumers saying that they have received two or more calls in a day from the same company.

In preparation for the introduction of new rules, the telecoms regulator has issued guidelines to the call centres industry on the use of automated dialling equipment.

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