Unwanted calls have more than doubled over the last month, according to Ofcom. Figures published last week show that there’s been over twice the number of consumer complaints to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) in January 2013 than there was in December.
The numbers in Ofcom’s graph show that there were 9,498 complaints in total in January, up by 5,136 from the month previous (4,362) – over double the amount.
The TPS puts this down to an increase in the marketing actions of PPI companies and comparison services, or those mining for data in order to sell on to the aforementioned.
John Mitchinson, manager of the Telephone Preference Service told us that:
“A significant portion of the complaints we receive from people registered on the TPS, are from organisations that want to remain anonymous. They may withhold their telephone number or use a very generic sounding name making it quite difficult to track them.
What they are trying to do is to generate sales leads for other companies. The most common subjects are things like PPI claims, energy comparison services, insulation grants, marketing surveys and other financial services.”
Ofcom has also reported a similar spike in silent calls over the last month which could be attributed to these organisations. Silent calls are generated when a sales call is automatically sent out to homes, only for no-one to answer when the phone is picked up.
Mitchinson suggested a link between unwanted marketing calls and silent calls, adding: “Any reputable company that uses TPS will avoid making silent calls by playing a short information message. These companies take their legal obligations very seriously.”
With disreputable companies using withheld numbers and leaving silent messages, it’s hard to say for sure where these calls come from. Earlier this year, Ofcom announced a Call Tracing Project, which aims to gather more information on nuisance calls and how networks and customers can trace those hiding behind withheld numbers.
Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has the power to issue fines of up to £2 million to companies found in breach of the rules on silent calls.
Ofcom has also been encouraging BT to make Customer Line Identification (CLI) information available to customers, which should make it easier to complain about and block unwanted callers. BT has also launched the BT6500, a phone designed specifcally to making blocking calls much easier. BT claims that up to 80 per cent of spam calls can be blocked with the BT6500, which is on sale now for £44.99.