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Automated 'silent' telephone calls will carry up to £2m fine

LONDON - The Government has promised to significantly hike the maximum fine for companies that cause distress to consumers through so-called 'silent calls', generated by automated phone calls, from £50,000 to £2m.

Telephone marketing: fine increases for silent callers

Telephone marketing: fine increases for silent callers

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In a statement, the Govenrment pledged to move "as soon as possible" to amend the penalty in the Communications Act 2003 by statutory instrument.

The maximum penalty that can currently be applied by telecoms regulator Ofcom is £50,000.

Companies penalised by Ofcom include Barclaycard, fined £50,000 in 2008, and Carphone Warehouse, fined £35,000 in 2007.

Silent calls occur when call centre automated calling systems dial too many numbers for their operators to handle. As a result, the person who picks up the phone hears only silence.

While the issue has received less press attention than during 2007 and 2008, Ofcom still received more than 6,500 complaints about silent calls in 2009.

Kevin Brennan, minister for consumer affairs, said: "Consumers can be assured that the new fines are definitely more than a slap across the wrist for offenders."

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