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Measures Against Silent Calls Will Come Into Force Early Nex

Communications regulator Ofcom is to introduce measures to cut down the number of silent calls made by call centres to individual households to no more than one a day.

Silent calls are generated when call centre technology mistakes a "live" voice for an answering machine and then cuts off the call without the customer hearing anything.

The rules, which will come into force on 1 February 2011, will prevent a company using answer machine detection equipment more than once a day unless a call centre agent is on hand to answer.

More than 70 per cent of consumers who have complained to Ofcom about silent calls have received as many two or three calls a day from the same company over extended periods, the regulator said.

Last week, Ofcom was given the power to fine companies that allow computer-controlled telecommunications systems to generate "silent" telephone calls up to £2m. Previously the maximum fine stood at £50,000.

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