Ofcom has today confirmed new rules to prevent consumers being harassed by repeat silent calls.
The new rules will prevent a company using answer machine detection equipment more than once a day, unless a call centre agent is on hand to answer the call. This would mean that consumers currently worst affected should no longer receive repeat silent calls over the course of a day.
The new rules will come into force on 1 February 2011.
Ofcom has powers under the Communications Act 2003 to take enforcement action where it has reasonable grounds for believing that a person has persistently misused an electronic communications network or service.
A major factor in their responsibility is protecting the consumer from harm. It's no surprise that 22% of the population have experienced silent calls on their landline in the last 6 months (Ofcom Consumer Concerns Tracker, TNS Omnibus, March 2010). It's felt that abandoned and silent calls will invariably result in consumer harm; which I think everyone would agree with. This could range from inconvenience and annoyance through to genuine anxiety, particularly for those who live alone.
In the case of silent calls, getting calls like this over a short period time could lead a consumer to believing they are being targeted or harassed.