Companies that telemarket with automatic dialling equipment and generate large volumes of silent calls – those where the equipment hangs up on the answering customer if no salesperson is available to take the call – could be fined up to £2million for their customer-unfriendly ignorance.

The new fine level, a marked increase on the maximum £50,000 levied by telecoms watchdog Ofcom has been called for by the Consumer Minister, Kevin Brennan, who has stated that the offending calls are an inconvenient nuisance to victims and frightening for the elderly.

Companies previously censured by Ofcom for silent calls have been Barclays, Abbey, Complete Credit Management, Carphone Warehouse, Toucan and Space Kitchens.

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