Ofcom To Boost Hunt for Nuisance Call Firms
The telecoms watchdog is to boost efforts to hunt down companies behind nuisance calls to householders.
The move was prompted after Ofcom said a study found almost half of all adults were subjected to silent or abandoned calls within a six-month period.
The regulator announced a plan to tackle the growing problem after its own research suggested the number of those affected had increased from 24% in 2011 to 47% in 2012.
An abandoned call is one that ends when it is picked up while a silent call is where the receiver hears nothing and has no way of knowing whether there is anyone at the other end of the line.
The figures, released in the regulator's annual Consumer Experience Report, also reveal that 71% of landline customers received a live marketing call, while 63% received a recorded marketing message over the same six-month period.
Ofcom said its plan to help tackle nuisance calls would include a new study to build a clearer picture of the problems consumers experience.
It has also pledged to work closely with the industry to identify ways to trace companies behind nuisance calls when they try to hide their identity.
Ofcom issued fines totalling more than £800,000 within the last year to HomeServe and npower over silent or abandoned calls. TalkTalk is currently under investigation.
The watchdog has also received numerous complaints from consumers who have been pestered by callers acting on behalf of firms looking to payment protection insurance mis-selling compensation claim firms.
Ofcom's consumer group director Claudio Pollack 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."