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Tighten rules on cold calling, demands MP

Welsh Labour MP Kevin Brennan on Tuesday called on MPs to pass a bill tightening the rules on cold calling, and in particular the large number of silent calls generated by the use of computerised dialling equipment.11 Nov 2004

Some call centres use these systems to make marketing calls and often dial more numbers than there are operators available – in the expectation that some of the people being called will not be home. Unfortunately this can leave recipients without an operator on the end of the line, resulting in a "silent call".

"Many people are distressed when they receive silent calls, but do not realise that many of these calls come from firms selling products and services over the phone," Mr Brennan told the BBC. "It is outrageous that vulnerable people are being subjected to unnecessary and frightening nuisance calls by corporate concerns".

Brennan has put forward a private members bill, which, if passed, would enable customers to trace the calls and take action against the companies involved.

It is unlikely that the measure will become law, due to a lack of parliamentary time, but the MP hopes that the Government will take the idea up in future legislation.

At present the only protection against cold calling for consumers is the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which sets out a list of individuals who have opted-out of receiving direct marketing calls. Registration is free, and can be carried out in writing, over the phone or on-line.

The TPS was set up in 1999 and direct marketing firms have a legal obligation to check and comply with the list before calling. Failure to do so can result in enforcement action by the Information Commissioner.

In June this year the right to block cold calls through the TPS was also extended to businesses.

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