Ofcom have fined two companies £20,000 each for making excessive numbers of silent and/or abandoned calls to consumers.

Both types of call occur when automatic dialling machines are set to dial up more numbers than sales or call centre staff can deal with, a deliberate policy to ensure that staff work at full economic capacity When the victim picks up the telephone there is no-one on the line (silent call), or there is no-one on the line but a recorded message advises which company has called and gives a phone number to call back on (abandoned call) Ofcom set maximum limits for both types of call and impose fines for those it catches exceeding the limits.

In December it handed down a £20,000 fine after it found that lead generation company MYML made 30,296 abandoned calls over a six working week period in 2013/4 and failed to provide a suitable telephone number in the recorded message. It also fined energy service company Green Deal Savings £20,000 for making 12,703 silent calls over a six working week period in 2013, and 420 abandoned calls in a 24-hour period.

In the past Ofcom has fined mobile operator Talk Talk £750,000 for making 9,000 silent and abandoned calls in 2011 – it also fined them, and Tiscali UK, £3 million in the same year for billing tens of thousands of customers for services not supplied and forced them to pay more than £2.5 million in refunds. And Barclaycard was fined £50,000 in 2008 and Npower £60, 000 in 2011 for telephone abuse.

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