back to article Penalty for silent calling goes sky high

Companies caught repeatedly making silent calls could get fined up to £2m in future, compared to the £50,000 maximum that taciturn sales staff currently pay. After a consultation period, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has decided upping the potential fine is the best way to stop companies giving people the …

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pointless....

given that a lot of these calls now come from india.

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Anonymous Coward

Easy fix

Disconnect landline. Nobody uses it, except for sales and other spam calls. Just use your mobile.

Better than TPS.

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Emergencys?

Sure, you can get by quite well without a landline.

But to say "Nobody uses it" is false.

There are situations where they are still needed, elderly who use a "Home Alert" style system, people who still have private fax machines, those people who cant get a DSL or other broadband are are still using dial up (about a quarter of all US internet users last I heard). And lets not forget about the "deals" from telcos that bundle land line/long distance/DSL into one inseparable package.

And then there are just the cases where you call the emergency number (999, 911), if you are willing to trust your life to your mobiles ability to pin your exact location from within your home, with the wires, pipes, nails and other crap in the walls, to a high enough degree of accuracy to save your life in an emergency then, yeah you can ditch your land line.

I know people who have done that, I also know that my cell (admittedly its not the latest tech) can't get a GPS fix inside my house, so if I had to use it to dial 999 and couldn't speak I would be severely pooched without lube.

You might want to try it sometime, in your bed room try to get a GPS lock, and yes I know they also triangulate off the towers but still, you want to bet that its going to be accurate enough that the paramedics don't burst through your neighbors door while your in you kitchen suffering a stroke?

Not flaming, just pointing out that your statement of "fact" about land line usage isn't.

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Megaphone

You're an idiot

Not eveyone needs or wants a mobile phone to chat whilst shopping, or driving or use it in another moronic way.

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Stop

...calls from outside the UK...

"...- assuming they're based in the UK. Cheaper transatlantic rates means many sales calls come from the USA these days - beyond the reach of Ofcom and outside the remit of the Telephone Preference Service."

Why aren't these overseas calls to the UK queried by the UK DP Registrar or the EU authorities?

- For India, being outside the EU, transmission of UK citizen data in a machine-usable format is expressly forbidden; same for the US, too (which is deemed to provide insufficient protection for EU citizen data)

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Paris Hilton

A Data Protection Primer

it simply isn't true that it's illegal for 'citizen data' - whatever that is - to be sent to india or the usa. think about it for a moment: how else would uk companies be able to outsource their customer service to places like bangalore?

Personal Data can be exported outside the eu/eea provided it goes to countries that have equally good data protection laws. india does. the usa doesn't. but that's not a problem either. a data processor in the usa just has to commit to a contract that means they follow eu data protection regulations.

paris icon because she can't keep her data personal.

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Useless...

the problem is identifying the perps.

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Post your own message

I get international marketing calls daily :-(

Always some recorded message or another. Bloody annoying.

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Revenge

Make them think you are interested. Keep them talking. Keep asking questions.

Then tell them to piss off.

Score points for the length of the call, how angry the sales muppet gets and the absurdity of your questions (and the inability of the muppet to answer them).

Best one so far is convincing some twonk who was trying to sell us a new phone system that we didn't have any phones and he was actually having a nightmare about his work.

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Wanker

Yeah that's "revenge" all right, spreading the misery around to some poor bastard whose only sin is not having the skills to make $10 an hour any other way. FIGHT THE POWER

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I see.....

So we should give stupid people a break, right?

I *do* hope you remember that when you're mugged by some "poor bastard" whose only sin is not having the skills to feed his crack habit any other way.

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FAIL

I dont see the connection

between a legitimate worker trying to make a buck and someone who has resorted to breaking the law to feed a drug habit.

Oh but of course you have only ever worked for google right? The one company in the world that does no evil....

I've worked cold calling jobs. Put myself through university on one. It's a horrible job. People abuse you, you work long, unusual hours and have unrealistic targets to hit. Absolutely no-one appreciates you, there is no chance of promotion and it certainly doesn't add to your CV but it puts money in your pocket and food in your mouth.

Spare a thought for people who are struggling not because they are stupid but because circumstances are not in their favor at the moment.

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@ Oliver 8

Cold calling and being a debt collector are a couple of jobs that people with morals do not want to do. The later has to exist because there are immoral people in the world but the cold calls just work for them.

Do not look for simpathy for the people who chose a job that uses up other peoples time, they are as socially corrupt as their employers and deserve all the abuse they get.

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FAIL

BT don't help much

I had one of those auto-dialers (from within the UK) call me with a recorded message offering debt assistance (you know the sort of thing). When I pressed 5 to be put through to the agent so I could give him an earful, the tosser argued with me, and then called me a "f*cking cocksmoker"!.

When I called BT to try and get the call originator they said that because it was a CLI withheld they could do nothing. That I find unbelievable. I bet if I was phoning around making bomb threats whilst withholding my number they'd pull their bloody fingers out.

Secondly BT's charge of £3.35 for Choose to Refuse and £4.00 for anonymous call reject are extortion, these should be free.

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BT

BT really can't do much in those circumstances. They do have the information, but can only legally release it to the police on presentation of a suitable warrant. If you are willing to make a formal complaint about harassment, then they can make BT divulge the info. Unlikely to work except in cases of repeated sexual harassment, though.

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I want

my CLI to auto-block withheld numbers .... can it be done ?

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Possibly...

It'll cost you for a bit of kit, but it can be done. Set up a small PBX running Asterisk (which will run on all manner of small, cheap NAS boxes with a USB stick for storage) and connect it to something like an SPA3102 or other ATA with a line and phone port. Then you can receive the CLI from an incoming call and if you don't like it, you can get the PBX to drop the call, play it a message, put it through to your asnwerphone, etc.

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I think

The TrueCall device can do that: http://www.truecall.co.uk/

It sits between your socket and phone and screens calls. IIRC you can set certain numbers to always bypass it (e.g. friends and family), always bar certain numbers and ask about any others.

I think you can also set it to automatically reject withheld numbers too.

Some of the telephone providers will allow you to automatically reject withheld numbers at the exchange for an additional monthly charge.

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Re: I want

Problem is, blocking of withheld CLI (I'm assuming you mean System Y's *227 blocking) does NOT stop international calls coming in without CLI. This makes it next to useless as a countermeasure against marketing companies.

Fail. That, along with not being able to selectively block outgoing premium rate numbers without losing other functionality is about the most retarded idea imaginable.

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Grenade

I like....

saying "Sorry, my mobile (the number of which I never to any company) is ringing, can you hold the line please".

I've no problem with international marketing calls.

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Happy

I like...

...one of my mates, anytime he got a sales call, would always say "hold on, I'll pass you over to the householder" and then put his three-year-old son on the line, who would just say "Hello ! Hello ! Hello !" repeatedly (as toddlers do). Worked a treat and gave him a laugh at the same time.

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some call centre drones have ways

of avoiding getting a call passed to them.

Handy if you don't want to do the job.

AC because I helped write some stuff to spot them.

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FAIL

#marketingfail

Yeah, we get them daily too, based on the fact that we took over the previous occupant's phone number. It's not unusual to get home from work and find something like 27 missed calls.

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So, how do I report them?

I got two of these calls yesterday.

1471 says "Caller withheld their number", and obviously they didn't tell me their company name because it was silent!

My answerphone tends to get one a month or so, plus a couple of 'recorded message' stupidities.

So, what to do? Last time I called BT about this (a few years back), they didn't give a toss.

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I get these...

...even though I am registered with TPS. They are a total pain in the arse. And the bastards block their number too - that should be illegal for any company using auto-dialers. If I knew their number I could report it and request a block (at the offender's expense).

This fine is pointless as we all know it will not be applied and it is just to easy for these companies to avoid any censure (mostly because the have enough wonga to grease the right palms).

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Flame

2 Million fine

To anyone who gives their credit card number to these mongrels. For all you know they could be prisoner workers.

If they really have a good offer send me a fridge magnet.

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Hmm,

But this is mostly useless when things like this happen:

http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/08452453200

Who is it?

are they vodafone, O2?

Did they really get details from mobile service providers?

etc etc

who knows

very angry people though huh

D

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Help from BT

If BT would start giving us international CLI, or at least the country of origin then it would help a lot. I'm sure it can't be too hard.

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Call screening

Most important skill I taught myself recently is call screening, and warning my Friends & Family that I do. Plus it's free. I even have the phones on very quiet, so you barely even hear them ringing.

Learning that you don't have to pick up every single time now means I can ignore calls guilt-free - anyone important will leave a message.

The hang-up click immediately after the answering machine kicks in, gives me a small but satisfying "ha, ha - f* you" feeling everytime now...

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THIS

"Learning that you don't have to pick up every single time now means I can ignore calls guilt-free - anyone important will leave a message."

*THIS*

Simple really.

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How to deal with cold callers.....

I expect most of you have already heard this, but for those that haven't, here is the masterclass in dealing with cold-calling asswipes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkdoogjic4I

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Megaphone

The issue is about Ofcom using the powers that it has

When parliament last granted Ofcom an increase to the maximum penalty it came with a demand: "We expect you to use your powers to eradicate the nuisance of Silent Calls".

Ofcom has not even attempted to do this, and now it wants a further increase!

There is lots more on this topic in my blog.

In response to other comments:

• The location of the caller is irrelevant to Ofcom’s powers - they apply to the organisation behind the call.

• BT will apply the trace facility to attempt to identify the caller behind a repeated pattern of nuisance calls of any type. Speak to the Nuisance Calls Bureau, not just the helpline.

• All recorded message marketing calls are illegal, under regulations enforced by the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO).

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Anonymous Coward

numbers halved?

or just that more people, like me, simply don't pick up if I don't see a number on the CLI display. It trips to the answering machine, and if they leave a message that I want to hear, I can pick up. Most of the time all I get is "<click> beeeep beeeep beeeep".

One technique that I heard about but haven't tried yet is to wait til the droid comes on line and, when they ask if you have a minute, reply in your most sincere voice along the lines of "Yes, but just before you start, I'd like to share some Good News about Our Lord Jesus Christ". You just get <click>

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Student loans beware

Oh how I look forward to this.

4 in 10 calls from student loans are silent, 3 are garbled nonsense, 2 are a recorded message in a dodgy generated accent asking me to ring a number and one is actually human.

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Grenade

Need more than just UK, phone companies COULD do more

Waste of time as most are foreign calls from foreign countries. I guess it's a start but we need more. Like phone companies to give a shit and like me I want to block ALL international calls. And not be charged for the privilege. Same goes for witheld caller charges. BT is a rip off, Virgin also charge for this and make a bomb out of these twats as people like me DON'T want junk calls so pay virgin to supposedly block witheld calls.

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wow - BT is stone age

gosh. while I'm not a huge fan of many things here in America the options around the phone systems are a lot better.

I can do things like block (with a message) any number withheld caller, and selectively route callers based on caller id and time of day to voicemail or another number

For instance at home we have

- all withheld numbers blocked

- any call between 10pm and 7am routed to voicemail

- override for the wife, daughter and our parents to get through any time

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Anonymous Coward

Gosh

I bet the cold calling capitalist scumbags are quaking in their boots. The chances of a worthwhile fine being levelled in the near future are about the same as a 1km carrot-shaped asteroid composed entirely of gravitationally collapsed Ofcom filing cabinets encased in Duranium impacting the chip shop in Scunthorpe where Elvis and Jim Morrison work the late shift.

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the Dutch way

in the news yesterday: in the Netherlands, they have a database that you can enter if you don't want sales calls. It's been extremely successfull: 4 milion people have already subscribed.

However, the flip side: when marketing firms realised they cannot reach their public by phone any more, they switched to door-to-door sales tactics - which are, in my opinion, a lot more pain in the donkey.

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Anonymous Coward

Database

We have one too - the TPS. I think something like 50-60 percent of the UK is subscribed, can't recall exactly but the number is crazy.

Personally I prefer it if they come to the door; I'm fairly sure it's more soul destroying to see the curtains part but the door stays shut, or if it does open, it gets slammed in your face 2 seconds later. If they are selling, they really really do stand out a mile from any other non-personal callers. The funniest ones are the ones flogging gas or electric accounts; you never see one who looks like they've been doing it for more than 24 hours, and few look likely to last the rest of the week.

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Paris Hilton

It's all just a game....

We used to get a lot of calls in our old flat share, and made a game up to pass the time. It worked best when we had all 5 of us there.

Person on Phone: Hello, I have something to say...

Flatmate 1(Male): Sure, what would you like to say...

Person on Phone: "sales pitch"

Flatmate 2(Female): That sounds really interesting, please tell me more

Person on Phone: Em, wasn't I just talking to a male?

Flatemate 3(Male): Yes, I am male. What are you trying to say?

Person on Phone: Nothing sir, I. em, it must be a bad line...

Flatemate 4(Female): So, what offers do you have this month?

Person on Phone: I think there is something wrong here...

Flatemate 5(Male): When will my pizza's arrive? It's been over 30 minutes since I placed my order..

Person on Phone: (usually at this points hangs-up)

the game was to try and keep them going as long as possible.....I recently met someone who works in a cold-call-center - and I do feel for them - but it's my time and my home; and they should be abused as much as anyone who walks in to my house un-invited.

Paris, well, because she isn't cold, or silent.....

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Go

My solution

to telemarketers lies in how I've set up my phone line. It goes into CallCorder on my computer so I can receive faxes or take calls through my computer using my desktop microphone.The auto-answer is set to wait for 4 rings, so I can check the number and if it's someone I know, I can answer. If not, the auto-answer checks to see if it is a fax, if not it responds with this little MP3:

"Hello...(3 sec pause)...Speaking...(5 sec)...Uh huh...(5 sec)...I see...(5 sec)...Uh huh...(7 sec)...Really?...(6 sec)...Sounds interesting...(5 sec)...Uh huh...." etc. It runs for around 15 minutes like this, then tells them (in a different voice) the call has been disconnected due to technical issues and beeps to leave a message.

A few of the smarter droids figure it out in less than a minute, but most take around 2-3 minutes before they get it, and I've had some of them gasbagging on the line for as long as 6-7 minutes before they realise they're talking to a machine. I've yet to nail one for the full 15 minutes, but I'm sure I'll eventually get one as I tweak the recorded message. Much better than just hanging up or even leaving them on the line while you "get the householder", since this method seriously wastes their time and costs their company money!

If you do try this at home, make sure your recorded response does not contain the word "yes" or its variations, or anything sounding like you might be agreeing to accept something. You don't want to be locked into a 3-year unwanted phone contract just because your recorded message said "yes" and signed you up after bad timing in the file. To create an effective recording, I suggest actually taking a few telemarketing calls and recording them so you can practice getting the pauses and responses right. Remember these guys are reading from a script, so if you get the delays and words right you can tail them along for several minutes, and you can have a lot of fun fine-tuning your recording to see how long you can keep them going!

And before you ask, yes, I got this idea from watching "The IT Crowd"!

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the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property

There's no point whatsoever in increasing the penalty, just impose the one that''s already there a few times rather than, as with TPS penalties never. The only "benefit" from this increase is that the politicians can be seen to have taken action, however if they actually implemented any of the fines it would be damaging to marketing businesses who perhaps help the political parties out with some contributions.

As regards number withheld blocking - it's pointless, I'm getting calls with faked callers numbers, I've seen just a long string of zeros as CLI and last week I got a 6 digit CLI (looked like Cardiff STD code plus a bit).

Why not legislate so the telecos could operate a free blacklist and blocking service and instantly route all such calls to a premium rate sandbox. (The spam callers limit the ring-count so they don't trigger answerphones - making their calls even more frustrating as you rush to the phone for an update on Aunty Mabel's emergency hospital admission and it stops ringing before you get there...)

TPS results in fewer calls but still 4 in the last week (and I've been on the TPS list for many years).

Can't we use human rights legislation "the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property"?

I can't even get a domestic use premium rate number to use on communications with organisations who will regard me as fair game as a result of contacting them.

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Can't we use human rights legislation "the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property"?

You'd think, wouldn't you? I remember my dad pointing this out to a junk caller once, and asking for his name. We guessed it wasn't 'Father fu**ing Christmas', and on that basis got treated to an in-ear reprimand from the gentleman's supervisor who happened to be behind him. Timing fail.

You have to enjoy the little things.

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Happy

A Possible Solution...

There is a device called the Telezapper http://www.telezapper.com/, that works very well here in Canada to reduce (although it doesn't eliminate) sales calls. I don't know whether it would work in the U.K. When the telephone goes off-hook (answering, an answering machine taking a call, or when placing a call) the Telezapper generates a tone that here in North America tells autodialling equipment that the telephone line is disconnected. A few months of that and your number gets dropped from their databases and no more calls (expect hand dialled ones from smaller companies).

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FAIL

Yeah, but...

...since they don't ship to countries outside the U.S., those of us living on that other planet known as Earth, which apparently is not part of the planet of North America, won't get to sample the joys of your little telemarketer zapping gadget.

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