QUITE often I get constituents visiting my surgery asking how they can stop nuisance and especially silent telephone calls.
Silent calls can be a cause of significant distress and anxiety for so many people, especially older people. In fact Ofcom, the telephone watchdog, receives over 1,000 complaints a month from consumers worried and frustrated about this issue.
Now, two consumer champion groups ‘Consumer Focus’ and ‘Age Concern’ have joined forces with Ofcom to raise awareness of what silent calls are, why they happen and what consumers can do avoid them.
It seems that silent calls are caused by automated calling systems, known as diallers, which are often used in call centres. If there are not enough call centre agents to handle the numbers of calls the dialler makes, it may result in a silent call. Although silent calls can seem intimidating, they are usually marketing calls and not malicious.
In the last year Ofcom has taken action against well known companies for failing to meet the guidelines including Barclaycard and Abbey National.
So what can you do if you are receiving silent calls? Firstly you can try to identify the caller – all companies should display a number when calling, and allow you to obtain their number by dialling 1471. You can then report the name and number of the company. Ofcom monitors companies and investigates those who may not be complying with its guidelines.
You can also register for the Telephone Preference Service [TPS]. This free scheme makes it illegal for a company to call someone registered for marketing purposes. Registration can be done online at www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps or by calling 0845 070 0707.
But beware – you may unwittingly give consent for such calls when you make major purchases or historically you may have given consent to your bank. If so the caller is entitled to make such calls even if you are registered with TPS.