UK's Ofcom Targets Silent Calls

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Companies that breach new silent-calls guidelines could be fined up to $88,433 per offense under tougher measures introduced yesterday by Ofcom, the regulator for Britain's communications industries.

Silent calls occur when automated calling systems used by call centers for telemarketing, market research, debt collection and other purposes generate more calls than the available agents can handle. When the person dialed answers the phone, no agent is available, resulting in silence on the line. These abandoned calls cause anxiety and annoyance.

Ofcom has amended its policy to combat silent calls. Its revised policy sets requirements for organizations using automated calling systems, including:

· Any abandoned calls must include a recorded message that identifies the source of the call and offers the person called a chance to decline further calls from that source.

· Calling line identification must be presented on all outbound calls from call centers using automated calling systems. CLI lets people dial 1471 and access the number of the person or organization calling them.

· Numbers dialed, then abandoned, should not be called again by that organization's automated calling system for at least 72 hours unless a dedicated operator is available to take the call.

· Abandoned call rates must be below 3 percent of total calls for any 24-hour period for each campaign. This is lower than existing published industry codes, which require a 5 percent limit.

· Records must be kept to show compliance with these requirements.

· Ofcom asked the government to increase the maximum penalty that Ofcom can impose from $8,843 to $88,433 for each breach of the rules.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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