News : Ofcom Fines Two Companies for Nuisance Calls
Dec 9, 2014 -- Two companies have each been fined £20,000 by Ofcom for making abandoned and silent calls after ministers promised a crackdown on this "modern-day menace" earlier this week.
Investigations by Ofcom into Green Deal Savings and MYIML found both in breach of legislation on "persistent misuse" of a telephone network or service.
Abandoned calls occur when automated calling systems, used by organisations to maximise the time agents spend talking to consumers, dial too many numbers and there are not enough call centre agents to handle them.
Ofcom’s policy on persistent misuse sets a limit on the number of abandoned calls organisations can make. It also says abandoned calls must include a recorded message with information on who the call has come from and how to call back and opt out of future calls.
"We know that silent and abandoned calls can cause consumers annoyance, nuisance and distress," said Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer and content group director. "These latest fines help demonstrate to organisations that there are consequences for operating outside of the law."
The fines were announced as Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) outlined recent progress in their joint action plan to tackle a UK "epidemic" of nuisance calls and texts, which ministers warned this week have hit "plague" levels.
Since May 2014, Ofcom and the ICO have been involved in a taskforce looking at further measures to help tackle unsolicited sales calls and texts, including those based on data from companies in the business of generating leads. It submitted 15 recommendations to the government earlier this week, which include trying to block lead generators from selling on telephone details.
Ofcom estimates that MYIML, a lead generation company, made 30,296 abandoned calls between 16 December 2013 and 3 February 2014. It also failed to include a suitable phone number in the recorded message that would allow consumers to return the call.
The £20,000 fine for Green Deal Savings, a company offering home energy efficiency services, relates to silent calls. By failing to ensure a message was played in the event of an abandoned call, it made an estimated 12,703 silent calls between 27 October and 14 December 2013. It also made approximately 420 abandoned calls in one 24 hour period on 27 October 2013.
Ofcom said the fines were in line with its penalty guidelines , relfecting the size of the businesses and level of consumer harm caused.
To date, Ofcom has fined 15 companies, including home insurance and repairs company HomeServe, which was fined a record £750,000 in 2012. Since March 2014, Ofcom has opened four formal enforcement cases; three of these have concluded, resulting in fines totalling £50,000. The case, involving Sambora Communications, is likely to be concluded in the New Year.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, December 11, 2014