If you have ever been continually pestered by cold calls there is a good chance that some of them may have ended recently. That’s because a firm in Clydebank was recently raided by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after a suspected 200 million illegal calls were made by them.
The ICO served a search warrant on the Clydebank firm after complaints and a tip-off led them to their office where they had software and equipment for making the automated calls predominantly about government sponsored boiler and window replacement schemes, sound familiar?
Beyond a simple nuisance
Because of the high level of automated calls the firm was making (yes, you read that correctly earlier- 200 million!), this went beyond the level of a simple nuisance and was genuinely a risk to life as they managed to knock out one of Network Rail’s control centres. In much the same way that a website can be attacked via a DOS (denial of service) this is effectively what happened to the Banavie Control Centre, near Fort William, by the sheer number of automated phone calls being made meaning that drivers and members of the public were unable to access information as to whether unmanned level crossings were safe to cross or not.
As the ICO is continuing to carry out its investigation, which will involve analysing the computer equipment and documents seized, they will not name the firm at this time. However, if found guilty of breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 they can expect heavy fines of up to £500,000.
How Connect looks to combat nuisance callers for our clients:
At Connect, because of the sheer scale of calls that we answer, we come across outbound call centres and automated diallers on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Believe it or not, we actually have a number of clients who use our service purely to filter out the sales calls. Our systems allow us to block out repeat offenders meaning that after a nuisance number, or range of numbers, has been identified they are no longer able to his out operator’s switchboard.
Our operators are trained to spot sales calls from the obvious automated calls to the “can I speak with the business owner” calls. We ask pertinent questions if suspicions are raised and if in doubt we will sent a message through stating that we were unsure if this was a sales call or not, if it was then clients can easily contact us to remove the message from their account- always better safe than sorry when dealing with potential new business.
We also rely on our clients telling us if and when an unsolicited sales call has sneaked through our systems and procedures. Unfortunately as we make it harder for sales calls to get through to our clients, then sales callers become ever more desperate and resourceful. One of their favourite ways is to call up and ask for general information on our clients product or service and then ask who the best person to speak to would be and hang up, then after a few minutes or hours call back again and confidently name that person as someone they were speaking to earlier and try to get transferred through. It’s in situations like this we very much appreciate our client contacting us to advise that a sales call got through as we are then able to block them; we also remove the message from our client’s record as we do not charge for sales calls.