If your phone rings and you pick up the receiver, but there is nobody there, then you have received a silent call.
Receiving silent calls can be unnerving, particularly if you receive them regularly. Some people are too frightened to go out to the shops after receiving a silent call because they believe that burglars are checking to see if their property is empty. Others worry that they are the target of a malicious caller, or that a member of their family needs help but is unable to speak.
In reality, nearly all silent calls that you receive during the daytime and early evening come from telemarketing companies, market research companies or debt collectors using predictive diallers. Predictive diallers are computerised autodiallers popular with call centres. While they save the call centre time and money, they will sometimes cause silent calls.
A predictive dialler, unchecked, can generate a lot of silent calls. In 2004, Ofcom reported that predictive diallers operated by one company were generating around half a million silent calls a month.
To reduce the distress caused by silent calls, Ofcom has established rules to control the use of predictive dialling in the UK. There is a limit on the number of abandoned calls a call centre can make, and instead of a silent call, companies should leave an information message saying that they have nobody free to speak to you, and giving you a number to call them back on. They must also pass on a caller-ID. Ofcom has already fined a number of companies for breaking these rules. Unfortunately they don’t apply to overseas companies calling from overseas call centres.
If you receive a silent call from a company and can identify the caller you can make a complaint directly to Ofcom. If you are getting a lot of silent calls and are concerned that they may be malicious calls, then contact your telephone company as they may be able to put a trace on the line.
trueCall blocks silent calls and keeps a record of every call attempt. This automatically collects the information you need if you want to make a complaint about a company.