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Silent Phone Calls .... Result!!! (Case opened today)

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Investigation against: Promote IT, Toucan Telecom, The Listening Company Ltd, ANT Marketing UK, Thompson Directories Ltd, Fax Information Services Ltd, Firestorm Marketing Ltd.
Case opened: 16 June 2005
Issue: Persistent misuse of electronic communications network(s) or service(s)
Relevant instrument: Sections 128 to 131 of the Communications Act 2003

A “short duration” or “silent call” is a call which is usually initiated by automatic calling equipment ("ACE"), generally used by Call Centres making outgoing calls. The call is terminated by the ACE immediately after the called party answers (usually, because no live operator is available to speak to the called party).

A short duration call may also arise where companies attempt to send fax messages to telephone numbers that are not connected to terminal equipment capable of receiving fax messages. When the call is answered, the called party may hear a series of tones or the call may have been terminated.

Complaints

Ofcom has received complaints from members of the public about Promote IT, Toucan Telecom and The Listening Company Ltd regarding the annoyance caused to consumers by the making of short duration and/or silent calls.

In addition, Ofcom made a formal request for information relating to short duration and silent calls from British Telecommunications plc ("BT") in May 2005. The request was made under section 135 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”). Following the receipt of the information from BT’s Nuisance Calls Bureau, Ofcom has identified ANT Marketing UK, Thompson Directories Ltd, Firestorm Marketing Ltd, and Fax Information Services Ltd as companies which have regularly made silent and/or short duration calls.

Ofcom has therefore decided to open an investigation to determine whether the companies identified above have persistently misused an electronic communications network or electronic communications service contrary to section 128 of the Act.

Sections 128 to 130 of the Act gives Ofcom the power to take action against persons or companies who persistently misuse an electronic communications network(s) or service(s) in any way that causes or is likely to cause unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.

Where Ofcom finds that a person or company is in breach of the above provision, it may issue an enforcement notification and/or impose a financial penalty on the misuser.

Case Leader: Tanya Rofani (020 7783 4342 e-mail: Tanya.Rofani@ofcom.org.uk)

Case Reference: CW/00835/05/05

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