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Ofcom fines company £150,000 for making nuisance phone calls

Thursday, August 20th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Ofcom has today fined a company £150,000 for making silent and abandoned calls.

An investigation by the telecoms regulator found that XS Remarketing Ltd, trading as Debt Masters Direct, made multiple nuisance calls during 37 separate 24-hour periods between 9 March and 28 April 2014.

Abandoned calls end when you pick up the receiver. Instead of a person on the other end of the line, you may hear a recorded message from the organisation trying to call you. Silent calls are when no recorded message is played at all.

These calls happen when automated dialling systems used by call centres dial too many numbers and there are not enough call centre agents to handle the calls.

The recorded message should say who has made the phone call and give details on how to opt out of further calls.

During its investigation, Ofcom found that Debt Masters Direct had failed to include details of an appropriate number in the recorded message that would enable the recipient to call back and decline further calls from the company.

The company also made repeat calls to specific numbers within 24 hours when a call had been identified as being picked up by an answer machine.

An Ofcom report published earlier this year found that more than four in five UK adults with a landline received nuisance calls.

86% of those participating in a study experienced at least one nuisance call over a four-week period.

Cracking down

More than half of those taking part (52%) received a recorded sales call – up from 37% in 2014 and 38% in 2013 – and 70% reported receiving a live sales call.

Six in 10 (60%) received a silent call and 17% received an abandoned call.

An Ofcom spokesperson told Cable.co.uk: “Ofcom is cracking down on silent and abandoned calls, placing £2m in fines on companies that have breached the rules.

“Nuisance calls is a complex and challenging area, but we will continue to work closely with other regulators, the government, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem together.”

In February, a change in the law made it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to take action against companies found to be making nuisance calls.

The ICO fined Point One Marketing Ltd, trading as Stop the Calls, £50,000 earlier this month for making nuisance calls.

Ironically, the company was marketing a call blocking device as well as a service that removes people from a cold call database.

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