back to article Ofcom smites silent callers

Ofcom plans to tighten up the rules on silent calling, proposing that pestering companies to wait 24 hours between calls and tell people by whom they're being pestered. A silent call is where you pick up the phone and there's no one there. A small proportion are weirdos or nervous secret admirers (or perhaps a happy …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Disco-Legend-Zeke


    ...pressing 2 or 9 to be removed from the caller's database. This is built into the autodialer software, so it should work anywhare. Anyone please add info as to outside USA effectiveness.

    I raise my class to all who hate phone spam.

    1. J Lewter


      Some countrys have "accept" terms and conditions when any key is pressed.. Agreed that once outside the USA it's not as common. But still It's probably best not to be pressing keys on these silent calls.

      What's worse is that some companys (like the ones Debenhams uses for delivery of large products) have staff that use a mixed sales call centre and delivery centre. This means that no delivery agent can call you if "TPS has marketing calls blocked"..

      Getting a 0845 inbound number (in the UK) will stop a lot of the cold calls (and if you pick a good supplier you could possibly make money when they phone you)

  2. Anigel

    You mean ofcom approves silent calls

    More like approves silent calls.

    Ofcom hereby gives permission for every company the UK to make one silent call per number per day without any penalty. Companies from outside the uk are of course welcome to continue making as many silent calls as they wish and can continue to ignore the TPS

    There is no need for silent calls if an agent is not available do not call out.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Come on conservatives, get rid of OFCOM

    "One annoying call a day." Next you will tell me they are planning on introducing rules to stop massive costs for phoning 08** numbers.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "on introducing rules to stop massive costs for phoning 08** numbers."

      If you paying massive cost for 0800 numbers you need to change carriers!

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        calling 0800

        Yes, O2 are charging me lots to call 0800 numbers. (In fact, they charge me lots to call any 08xx number), whereas 01* and 02* are included in my plan.

        Please tell me who I can change to. Please ensure when you pick another carrier that their network covers me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They could use the same setup as SMTP servers tend to...

    call, wait 15 minutes call, wait 30 minutes call, wait 1 hour, call, wait 2 hours, call, wait 4 hours call, wait 8 hours, call, wait 16 hours call, wait 24 hours, call, wait 48 hours, call, wait a week call, wait two weeks, call, wait 3 weeks, call, mark it as fail and drop it from the list(like that's gonna happen)

  5. Christoph Silver badge

    Whose costs?

    "ACS and AMD can make products cheaper by reducing the costs of call centres."

    They make it cheaper for the companies making the calls, by loading the costs onto their victims.

    They force people to repeatedly answer the phone and get hung up on, just in case they will eventually condescend to actually say what they are calling about - which the victim didn't want to know in the first place.

    If I were to phone someone, get them to the phone, and then hang up on them without saying anything, that would be grossly insulting to them. Why should it be any different for a big company just because they can make money out of doing so?

  6. dogged
    Thumb Up

    it decides you're a machine

    I bet Stephen Hawking gets called every minute of every day.

    Which, after his 90's BT ads, is amusing in a cruel kind of way.

  7. Bassey


    What a fucking horrendous idea! The last spate of calls I had from one of these things started when I was bathing the kids. I was expecting an important call (from the wife) so I took the kids out of the bath, grabbed the phone from the next room only to get a silent call. I then got them at fairly regular hourly intervals for that evening and several more at a similar time the next day. Of course, by then I recognised the number so could just silence the phone and wait for it to stop ringing.

    Under these new rules, I'd get them at the same wholly inconvenient time each and every day.

    Just get rid of them. Who wants monetary cost reduction when the real cost is being driven mad?

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...which apparently both exist to make our lives better."

    I assume that this apparence is only detectable from the point of view of a bum-sucking leech of dubious parentage operating a phone spam business.....

  9. karl 15

    Stop, stop, stop, for the love of god stop!

    I'm in the UK and we get 4 calls a day from a caller withheld number in india saying "Don't hang up"

    We have a new number, arn't listed and are on the do not call list too!.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    A gift from the gods!

    Not had a single problem/marketing/sales call since!

    Worthy of a review on el reg?

  11. Steve Walker


    I used to get the silent calls from an "international" CID which never showed the number always around 6 ~ 9pm, just after the kids had gone to bed and that pissed me off! Having a look on some forums someone suggested getting a phone with a VIP option whereas it only rings for people in the phone book.

    Viola! no calls from anyone I don't know :-) Yes you might miss the odd person but then again with BT messaging they can leave one if they are a real caller.

    Gets rid of all the unknowns completely, withheld, privates and internationals in one button press!

    But you gotta love OFCOM for the half arsed attempt to do something about it. 'bout time BT/Virgin/However had a call back number that told you who called and where from and the number to call them on to tell them to fuck off from calling me at night.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Another Vote for Trucall.

      for those who dont know, its an automated PA system.

      Caller (if not on a black or white list) records name and waits, at this point my phone rings and I am asked if I want to speak to [Recorded name]? My options are; yes (put through) not now (asked to leave a message) no (told not to call again) add to white list (put through immediatly every time by caller id) add to black list (told to go away every time by caller ID)

      My phone is answered by a machine 100% of the time. any telesales callers that are connected cant be bothered to leave a name and wait, hence they just hang up. if either case my phone does not ring at all.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Smart call systems are not always so smart...

      I have to do business with a UK company that blocks incoming calls where the number is withheld. Sadly, for me, "International caller" counts as withheld (WhyTF is the number not passed? it works correctly landline-mobile or mobile-mobile, but not landline-landline?).

      It says that the caller does not accept calls without a number, and that I must enter a number. So I enter 0033 and the machine then apologises and disconnects. I now currently enter random numbers in the 01252 area (where I used to live, many years ago) and it seems happy with that.

      I can understand private individuals wanting to put in phone blocks because cold calls are really annoying; here in France where verbal agreements can be binding (so there's a lot of problems with unknowns subscribing you to expensive services and "holding you to your word"). Cold calling ought to be stomped on.

      HOWEVER, those who use/run/code/implement phone interception systems might want to be less fuckwitish and actually figure if somebody calling is going to enter a number beginning 0033 then 1. They live overseas, as a massive majority of the population of the planet does, and 2. They might actually want to speak to you.

      I am not at all happy feeding random numbers to the system I call, and if I could get the service anywhere else, I'd leave without hesitation. A *company* blocking international calls is about as stupid as web order forms that insist on a valid zip code... I'm sure we've all come across those little monstrosities (oh, you're living in the UK? please enter your zip code! no, no, GU12 xxx is not a valid zip code! try again... sorry, 90210 is not a valid zip code for the united kingdom... AAAARGH!)

    3. madferret
      Thumb Down

      Not a chance

      I'm sure Trucall is very good, but why should *I* fork out 99 quid to stop a few junk calls? My friends would love being told by me how to control their privacy by unblocking their number to call me. Not.

      If I call someone and am met by a machine asking me for my name, the phone is hung up, end of.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    It's not a problem it's an opportunity

    Silent calls aren't a problem, they're an opportunity - for some other ripoff merchant to sell you an £80 device to block the nuisance calls. Given that the device ships from China for £20 each (as revealed on Dragon's Den) I'm not going to dignify it by mentioning the name here.

    As for Ofcom - why haven't the Tories abolished them yet?

    1. Pete 2

      The ultimate tele-sales call

      Now if some company phoned me up to sell me a call screener, I'm not sure if I'd laugh or buy it.

      I did used to get cold calls from BT (pleeeez come back - we're only twice as expensive as what you're paying now) from a real person telling that one of the benefits of coming back would be call screening. When I asked how they got my number, since I wasn't with BT, they claimed to have a right to call me since I was an ex-customer.

  13. Number6

    Weasels have eaten our phone system

    Topical subject, having been bothered over recent weeks by a silent caller who obligingly presented CLI (a first, I think, normally it's unavailable or withheld). A few years ago I put CLI recognition on my Asterisk PBX so they had the dubious honour of being the first company to receive the benefit of being answered with the message "Hello World! Weasels have eaten our phone system" followed by dropping the call, all without ringing the house phone and disturbing us. Based on checking the CLI log, they managed to get it at least a dozen times but appear to have stopped now.

    If only BT could be persuaded to release international CLI, even country of origin if not the whole number, then we'd have a chance at all these overseas callers as well.

    [For those who don't know, the 'weasels' quote is one of the pre-recorded messages available as part of the Asterisk PBX package. No I don't know why it's there]

    1. Mr Sceptical

      How did you get the CLI to work?

      Tried enabling CLI on our office Asterisk, but just ended up borking the system with each mod.

      As I understand, the UK uses a wierd CLI setup compared to most others, so you need to set specific settings in the config files.

      Tried the various suggestions, but no joy yet. Got a 3 port TDM card for our BT lines and all works OK, apart from the CLI...

      1. Number6

        It's all in the interface

        I use an SPA3102 which understands UK CLI and happily passes it on with no effort on my part, which unfortunately doesn't help your situation.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Just force all business lines...

    to declare the number. Force jail/community service on the Directors of any company that intentionally withholds the number.

    Since Caller ID is a service provided by the telcos, and they know when a line is ordered by a resident or business, it is a simple fix for them to prevent ID blocking by business lines.

  15. TonyHoyle

    Asterisk is a godsend

    I play screaming monkeys at them if:

    1. They don't send a callerid at all

    2. They're on a list of known annoying call centres

    3. They're on the list.

    It's fairly rare for marketing people to get through that, but if they do I take a note of the number and they get added to 2. and reported to 3.

    (there's also but I don't think they have an asterisk interface).

  16. FL1X

    number bashing

    I read somewhere that if you receive these calls do hash astrix over and over ie *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# etc and the dialer thinks its hit a fax number and you are removed from the data base.

    I havnt tested this as of yet but i have a old mobile thats still alive i did a quote on money supermarket, elephant etc and i was litterly receiving 20 calls aday upto 10:30PM (cut of should be 9:30 i think) but i would advise using bogus numbers when using these services.

    Its a shame that they are allowed to sell your details so freely dispite assuring you they wont its a tad suspicious that you enter a number into these websites and 5 days later your being spammed senseless.



  17. ManInAwhiteVan

    Hmmm, Ofcom ...

    Can I suggest emailing the clearly clueless ones via

    I must admit that I am, let's say far less than polite to the carbon based lesser life form at the receiving end than I perhaps should be. This started after one of these lesser life forms told me he was going to get his mates to bomb my house because I told him to f*kc-off and stop bothering me. If I'm feeling generous, I keep them on the phone for as long as possible, 35 mins was the longest while somebody tried to flog me a mobile phone. Asking them to explain how the phone works is the best bit. Wait 5 mins then ask how the network works. Repeat Until (SalesDroidHangsUp=True or SalesDoidHangsThemselves = True).

    These cretins aren't going to stop phoning no matter what the well meaning droids at (hopefully soon to be made redundant) OfCom try to implement.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Hang on, WTF?

      "This started after one of these lesser life forms told me he was going to get his mates to bomb my house because I told him to f*kc-off and stop bothering me."

      I think, following that, my next call would have been to the police. Whether or not he was serious or just annoyed and spewing is not relevant, you've had a direct threat against you from somebody you don't know trying to push you into buying something you don't want.

      [of course, it helps that I habitually record all calls - legally dubious, I know, but I've heard a lifetime's worth of bullshit promises so now I'm jaded, cynical, and have the tapes to prove it :-) ]

      1. ManInAwhiteVan

        I did call the police


        I did call the Police upon hanging up and to their credit they arrived to take a statement *very* quickly. The officer agreed I shouldn't have sworn at the caller but could understand the frustration. At the time, they were taking any threats of bombs made by certain aspects of UK society very seriously. Afaik, nothing came of it as I never heard from the Police again.

  18. fords
    Thumb Up

    Recording calls

    As long as you're telling the spammer you're recording the call, it's legit.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      not quite true

      As long as you tell yourself you are recording the call, it is legit. Only one party to the call needs to be aware of the recording for it to be legal.

  19. Annihilator

    Keep them on the call

    My favourite (when carbon callers deem me worthy of a sales pitch) is to say "I'll just ask the missus what she thinks" and then put them on hold. Similar trick to sending junkmail companies a nice big thick phonebook or similar via their freepost address.

    Still, at the moment my phone has been disconnected for the last week or so due to some bell-end misspelling his phone number and putting mine instead in Autotrader or something, so getting several calls enquiring about the Honda for sale. Grr...

  20. Philip Hands

    Ofcom's rules only work for people who obey rules

    On a brand new number, which has been on the TPS since it was ordered, we got tens of calls a day, of course with CLI withheld.

    The thing is, that for UK originated calls, even if the CLI is witheld, it's passed to your local exchange, it's just not passed down to you at the last hop. That being the case, Ofcom should insist that TelCos provide a number along the lines of 1471 that one could use to report annoying calls of all sorts (particularly morons offering to deal with all your debt, and witholding CLI -- these people are clearly criminals)

    So, you get an annoying call, and dial 17726, say, which provokes the exchange to log the CLI of the last incoming call to your line, which it should know even if it was withheld. (International calls are another story)

    Then Ofcom, or some watchdog with teeth, gets to peruse the list of flagged CLIs, and can investigate the owner of the number at the top of the list. Depending on their explanation, they get told to stop that, or forced to cough up a couple of quid per complaint, which gets split between the victims and the costs of investigation, or you send the police round.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ofcom is your friend

    "Nuisance calls can include unwanted sales and marketing calls (or faxes), abusive or threatening calls or silent calls."

    "Malicious or nuisance calls, whether from people you know or from complete strangers, are a criminal offence. You should tell your phone company as soon as you receive a malicious or nuisance call from somebody. It doesn’t matter whether you know the caller’s identity or not. "

    I used to get a lot of silent calls so I reported them as nuisance calls to NTL as was. They asked me to keep a record and let them know and after 2-3 more calls (and reports to NTL) they all stopped.

  22. mark l 2 Silver badge

    f@cking santander

    Santander used to phone my mobile several times a day with an automated message asking for some woman who id never heard of, with two options

    Press 1 if you are Mrs xyz

    Press 2 if you are not mrs xyz

    So press 2 thinking it would put me through to someone i could tell them they had the wrong number but no, it tells me to get mrs xyz to phone them on 0845.... like im some sort of oracle that knows everyone in the uk and can get them to call me

    Thankfully my mobile has a block list so i added that number to it, but so far ive blocked 12 numbers but they eventually start again after a few days from a new number, quick google of the number usually reveals it to be santander again so add to the block. they will eventually run out of number to pester me on.

    My landine (well voip) has a caller display so any 0845 number or witheld number dont get answered, it does show call id for numbers outside the UK as well as had phone calls from the US and france and the full number showed up

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Get the facts right - 72 hour block for silent calls

    The current rules are far more restrictive than those proposed:

    Ofcom also stated that its approach to abandoned and silent calls would take into account positive steps that call centre operators may have taken to reduce the impact of such calls. In summary these steps include the following:

    • limiting abandoned calls to a rate not exceeding three per cent of all live calls made on each individual campaign over a 24 hour period;

    • playing a brief information message giving details about any call answered before an agent is available;

    • providing calling line identification (CLI) information on outbound calls, so that consumers are able to make a return call;

    • a 72-hour period before a telephone number receiving an abandoned call may be called again without the guaranteed presence of an agent; and

    • unanswered calls must ring for a minimum of 15 seconds.

    I think the proposal is worse than the current situation (if imposed correctly).

    Suggested CLI requirements are useless with a lot of call centres using VOIP.

    1. Number6

      If only...

      From my earlier message, my current telesales caller managed to call three times today, so the concept of 72 hours is laughable. No idea if it was silent or not, to be fair, given that I only know they called by looking at the CLI because it doesn't bother the phones.

  24. LinkOfHyrule

    My fave way of dealing with nuisance callers is...

    I have two mobiles, one is hardly ever switched on, I give companies that number. I only use my land-line for calling my mum, its never plugged in otherwise.

    I don't get nuisance calls! - apart from once at 4am I have had a drunk man phone several times on my main mobile claiming my number is that of "some bird" he's met in a club demanding to have sex with me!

    If only insurance companies demanded to have sex with me I'd be more willing to give them my main number - talk about "quote me happy"!

  25. sn

    Simply Ban AnswerPhone Detection

    Its lovely to see that the subject of Silent calls still provokes such reactions, if Gordon Brown said he would have stopped then in his election manifesto he would be running the country now.

    Ofcom admit that AMD is the main cause of silent calls, and yet still don't want to ban the technology, their case for AMD is that cost savings are passed to the consumer, but really I think the consumer has spoken (a LOT of times actually) and said they simply don't want to receive silent calls. The technology simply doesn't work reliably, even the best technology out there can't achieve 90% acuracy and its easy to fool. Ofcom suggest in their latest consultation doc that they will allow 1 call a day to be classified as an answerphone, this is a license to allow one silent call a day for each customer - madness!

    Its simple, Ofcom should ban AMD technology.

    A £2million fine was recently introduced to try to prevent silent calls, but so far no prosecutions from Ofcom. If they ban AMD and then get up off their arses and go prosecute the failing call centres, this will quickly tidy up the industry and will prevent silent calls.

    If you feel strongly about this subject (as a lot of you do) respond to Ofcoms doc, or contact your local MP, insist on a ban of AMD technologies.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    "17726" - see also "Choose To Refuse".

    "Ofcom should insist that TelCos provide a number along the lines of 1471 that one could use to report annoying calls of all sorts

    So, you get an annoying call, and dial 17726, say, which provokes the exchange to log the CLI of the last incoming call to your line, which it should know even if it was withheld."

    Neat. You have just described a minor variant on the already-existing "Choose To Refuse" service which was/is offered by BT (and perhaps by others).

    Of course, BT being BT, with bottomless moneypits to support in the boardroom and in the pension fund and in Global Services, they want the customer to pay for basic things like this and Anonymous Caller Rejection, whilst at the other end they (tried to) bring us Phorm.

    BT? Ah so. As they say in the East.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019