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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 06:13 GMT
Silent calls - one year on
still from Graham Satchell's report
Many people are still getting unnerving calls
How many times have you dropped what you're doing and rushed to the phone, only to discover there's no-one on the line?

For most of us, these silent calls are just an irritation, but if you're old, vulnerable or living on your own, they can be very alarming.

Most silent calls aren't from burglars or even aggrieved lovers - they're from Tele-marketing companies.

What you told Breakfast
Last week I had a couple of days off to do some decorating. I had no less than 27 silent calls in two hours. Each time I had to come down a ladder which I had climbed to hang wall-paper. Finally, being in a hurry to get to the phone, I fell off the ladder injuring my knee, hip, ankle, back and thumb, and was off work a further three days
E Bakry

They use automatic dialling systems to phone out from their call centres. If there's no-one available to take the call when you pick up, all you will hear is silence.

It's now a year since the official watchdog, Ofcom, promised they'd clamp down on silent calls.

They promised that - at the very least - you'd get a pre-recorded message if you were dialled by an automatic system.

So have things improved?

This morning on Breakfast:

  • Graham Satchell has been back on the case - and he's only been able to find one company which is giving customers a pre-recorded message when its staff can't pick up the phone.

    How to stop silent calls

    There are several ways to stop silent calls and other forms of tele-sales:

  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service. This is run by the Direct Marketing Association, which promises that its member companies won't bother you once you've registered.

    This service is completely free - but it won't necessarily stop calls made from countries in the developing world.

    Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
    DMA House, 70 Margaret Street
    London W1W 8SS
    Telephone: 0845 0700707

    Make sure you follow the correct link, rather using a search engine: there are bogus Telephone Preference Service websites, which charge users for something you can get for free.

  • BT Privacy. Launche last year, this offers you free caller display and the chance to register with the Telephone Preference Service.

    The basic package is free - although there are charges for additional features, such as automatically blocking anonymous calls.

  • Finally, if you find tele-marketing calls disturbing or annoying, be very careful about which companies you give your phone number to.

    If you're applying for a catalogue, filling out a questionnaire or entering a competition, you may be asked whether your details can be used for marketing purposes.

    If you don't like cold calling, you should say no.

  • Have you been plagued by silent calls? Do you have any tips for dealing with them. You can use this form to e-mail the Breakfast team direct

    Your E-mail address
    Where you live

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

    Silent calls
    Graham Satchell reporting

    BBC Breakfast


    Silent calls: Ofcom investigates
    17 Jun 05 |  Breakfast
    Tracing the silent callers
    15 Jun 05 |  Breakfast
    Silencing the silent calls
    05 May 05 |  Breakfast
    How to stop silent phone calls
    07 Nov 03 |  Breakfast
    Your Comments
    10 Dec 04 |  Breakfast

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