Nuisance Calls – well I never……

Posted by CJD on January 14, 2013

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle; for the second time in a month I’ve had cause to comment that Ofcom might be about to do something actually useful – they’ve just announced that they’re going to do something about nuisance calls.

Ofcom’s plan

Ofcom’s five-point plan brings together industry, regulators and Government to help address nuisance calls:

1. New Research

Ofcom is aware that many consumers find it difficult to distinguish between the different types of nuisance calls. We have therefore commissioned new research, which aims to create a clearer picture of the problems consumers experience. A sample of UK adults will keep a diary recording any calls that they receive, holding on the line long enough to be able to determine the nature of the call, and detailing their experience. This will help to understand the frequency of the different types of nuisance calls and the companies and sectors generating them. Ofcom intends to share the findings with other bodies such as the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Office of Fair Trading, and the Ministry of Justice.

2. Tracing those behind nuisance calls

In 2013, Ofcom will work closely with industry to identify ways to trace companies behind nuisance calls where they try to hide their identity, and to look at ways to prevent such calls.

3. Improving Compliance

Ofcom, along with the Information Commissioner’s Office, will write to businesses making calls in the UK warning them of the requirement that they abide by Ofcom’s rules on silent and abandoned calls. Those that breach these rules could face fines of up to £2m.

4. Coordinated action

Ofcom has regulatory responsibility for tackling silent and abandoned calls. It has also committed to playing a role in a coordinated effort to tackle the wider issue of nuisance calls alongside other regulatory bodies, such as the Information Commissioner’s Office and Government. Ofcom has already published an online consumer guide to tackling nuisance calls and messages in collaboration with other regulators and consumer groups, which has been viewed online over 50,000 times.

5. Enforcement action

Ofcom will continue to take enforcement action where appropriate to ensure companies comply with its rules on silent and abandoned calls. Ofcom issued fines totalling over £800,000 within the last year to HomeServe and npower. TalkTalk is currently under investigation.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “Nuisance calls can cause annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety to consumers. This is a complex and challenging area, but Ofcom is determined to work with industry and other regulators to help protect consumers. Our new research will help to understand the root cause of the problem.”

I get at least one “International, Unavailable” call per day on my legacy BT line. They’re almost all from Indian call centres and are usually pure fraud attempts. I’m not at all sure that Ofcom will be able to do anything about calls originating offshore but we’ll see.

In the meantime, Voipfone has a solution for you, intelligent call blocking. Have a look:

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