This article is intended to provide guidance on adhering to Ofcom's regulations with respect to Sections 128 to 131 of the Communications Act 2003. It does not constitute legal advice. As an Communications Provider and PECN we will contact, and reserve the right to restrict the service of, any customer who we believe is not adhering to the below.
See also our Acceptable Use Policy
Statement of policy on persistent misuse
Ofcom provides six examples of misuse as below, this list is not exhaustive;
- Misuse of automated calling systems;
- Misuse by making silent or abandoned calls;
- Misuse of calling line identification ("CLI") facilities;
- Misuse for dishonest gain; and
- Misuse of allocated telephone numbers.
Prohibited calls under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
It is an offence to use automated calling systems to make unsolicited / direct marketing calls which do not consist of live speech. e.g. a recorded message where no operator is present. This sort of 'voice broadcast' dialler traffic is expressly prohibited on the Simwood network.
- Any system capable of dialling a telephone number prior to a live operator being able to handle the call directly.
- An established connection but terminated by the originator / calling party. Live Call An established connection to a live individual.
- An established connection where the called party hears nothing upon answering the phone.
- A person who is available to talk with an individual who answers a call and expressly excludes IVRs and pre-recorded messages.
Abandoned Call Rate
- In accordance with Ofcom guidance is calculated as follows where A represents abandoned calls and L represents live calls;
(A/A+L) x 100/1
Regulations for Automated Diallers
As discussed above the following is an interpretation of the regulations in an effort to encourage compliance. This should be read in conjunction with the Communications ACt 2003 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 along with Ofcom's "Statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or electronic communications service" which can be found here;http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/persistent_misuse/statement/.
- All calls must ring for a minimum of 15 seconds before a call is terminated.
- The rate of calls abandoned (ACR) must be no more than 3% of live calls over a 24 hour period and must include a reasoned estimate of Answering Machine Detection ("AMD") false positives where AMD is used.
- Statistics in summary form, or CDRs, which record compliance must be retained for a minimum of 6 months
- Written procedures which detail the following must be available
- How predictive diallers are configured;
- How silent call generation is monitored;
- How silent call complaints are handled.
- All customers must provide accurate and relevant CLI on all outbound calls.
- Return calls to the CLI presented must connect to the organisation responsible for making the call and must be an 01, 02 or 03 number. 084x, 087x and 09x are expressly prohibited.
- In the event of an abandoned call a brief recorded message must be played no later than two seconds after the call has been answered which;
- Identifies the company who was responsible for the call ( where a call centre is engaged in marketing or market research activities this should be the company that instructed the campaign )
- Offers the called person an option to opt-out of any further calls from the company by contacting an 0800, 0808, 01, 02 or 03 number only. This can also be provided by means of a "press X" option in addition to providing a contact number.
- Includes no marketing content, and is not used as an opportunity to market to the called party.
- Where an abandoned call has been made to a number any repeat calls to that number in the following 72 hours MUST be made with a guaranteed live operator.
- Where a call has been identified as an answering machine (including false positives) any repeat calls to that number within a 48 hour period MUST be made with the guaranteed presence of a live operator.
Answering Machine Detection
Whilst Ofcom have not specifically banned use of Answering Machine Detection ("AMD") it is our view that the current technologies are not going to enable compliance with Ofcom's guidance. Ofcom themselves have stated "Ofcom recognises that at present, and until accuracy rates improve, it will be very difficult to use [existing] AMD technology without breaching the three percent guideline."
We therefore strongly discourage the use of AMD.
Telephone Preference Service
Unsolicited calls to numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service are prohibited under all circumstances.
Voice Messaging / Voice Broadcast Diallers
Increasingly contact centres or automated dialling software is being used to push informational or transactional messages to customer (e.g. "your payment is due", "your parcel will be delivered at 9am" etc) - these are NOT governed by the above rules however prior consent must be obtained from the called parties.
We are increasingly being made aware of customers using Simwood CLIs when making outbound calls through providers with less stringent checking of call patterns. This results in damage to our own reputation and that of our legitimate customers.
Where we are made aware of this we will take appropriate action which may include suspension of the inbound number. In this event any further calls would be unlawful, as the CLI would not be a valid number to call back on.