Silent Calls Bookmark and Share Button

The Issue...

An abandoned call is where a connection is established but terminated by the caller even though the call has been answered by a consumer. A silent call is a type of abandoned call where the consumer hears nothing on answering the phone and has no means of establishing whether anyone is at the other end.

Abandoned and silent calls can cause significant consumer harm. Although the number of silent calls has decreased since 2005, an Ofcom survey from June 2009 showed that over three quarters (77%) of adults questioned were very or fairly inconvenienced by silent calls and almost two thirds (61%) were very or fairly concerned by them.

Older, and possibly also some disabled consumers are more likely to be affected by silent calls. These consumers are likely to find it difficult to get to the phone, making repeat silent calls particularly burdensome. They are also more likely to be at home during the day and therefore more likely to receive repeat silent calls. 

Our Objective...

To reduce the nuisance and distress caused to consumers by silent calls, by:

  • Influencing government to increase the penalty for silent calls, providing a greater deterrent to companies; and
  • Encouraging Ofcom to introduce stricter rules for call centers, helping reduce levels of silent calls generated by practices such as automated dialing.

Our Curent Position...

The Panel is pleased that Ofcom has amended the 2008 Statement of Policy to tackle repeat abandoned and silent calls, imposing a 24 hour no call-back policy. The Panel is continuing to monitor Ofcom's action in this area to ensure that this change is accompanied by a rigorous enforcement programme to tackle any cases of malicious misuse. This enforcement programme, where appropriate, should make use of the new maximum penalty for the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service introduced by government in March 2010.

The Panel is looking to Ofcom to monitor the effectiveness of the amendment, and expects Ofcom to take further action to address the problem if repeat silent calls remain at a high level, either among all consumers or among more vulnerable consumers.

Relevant Links...

Response to Ofcom's consultation on tackling abandoned and silent calls, July 2010

Response to BIS Consultation on raising the maximum penalty for the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service to tackle the problem of silent and abandoned calls to consumers, Jan 2010

Our Impact...

  • In response to submissions to its consultation from the Panel, among others, BIS increased the maximum penalty for silent calls from £50,000 to £2 million.
  • Support from the Panel, among others, encouraged Ofcom to make changes to the 2008 Statement of Policy designed to reduce the level of repeat silent calls received by consumers.

Future Action to be Taken...

The Panel would like levels of complaints about silent calls to be monitored, and action taken if repeat silent calls remain at a high level, either among all consumers or among more vulnerable consumers. 

>> Our Actions, Outputs and Stakeholder Engagement...