How to Stop Silent Phone Calls

by from, Last Updated: 12 January 2015

We've all picked up the telephone only to hear silence at the other end of the line, but for many these calls are not only annoying but intimidating as well. Here's what you can do to fight back against silent calls.

Office man on phone looking confused

Answering the phone to find that there is no one on the other end of the line is a nuisance that thousands of people across the UK accept as part of daily life.

However, there are a number of steps you can take to drastically reduce the number of silent calls you receive.

Here's how:

Find out who's making the silent calls

The vast majority of silent, or dropped calls, are made by companies using call centres to contact potential customers.

These companies use devices called predictive diallers to make vast numbers of calls which are then allocated to call centre staff when you answer the phone.

However, often these predictive diallers generate such a large number of calls that when you answer the line there are no staff members available to take your call and you are left with a silent line.

To check the number of the call, ring 1471 from your handset and you will either be able to make a note of the number or be told that the caller withheld their number.

If there is a number on record for your call, there are a selection of community websites including Who Calls Me? and Who Phoned Me? where you can check the details of the phone number and find out which company is behind the call. 

Register with TPS

While the Telephone Preference Service primarily exists to combat unwanted sales calls, registering with TPS should in turn help cut down the number of silent calls you receive too.

This is simply because most silent calls are made by companies looking to sell products through their calls centres. If you are no longer on their lists the number of silent calls you receive should also drop substantially.

Plus, if you are being harassed by a large number of sales calls, registering with TPS should put a stop to many of these too - although it won't stop all independent sales or spam calls.

It is free and easy to register with the TPS, simply enter your details on the TPS website and you should be added to their register within 28 days.

Report silent calls

Ofcom, the regulator of the telecoms industry takes a dim view of companies that make silent calls to members of the public and in the past has fined major businesses six figure sums for doing just this. 

If your silent calls from an identifiable company you should lodge a complaint with Ofcom so that they're able to investigate.

To complain about a silent call, visit the Ofcom website and enter details about when you received the call, what number it came from and whether there was a recorded message or silence on the line.

If Ofcom needs more information about your complaint they may contact you, but in most cases this is unnecessary.

Reporting intimidating calls

While Ofcom has the power to fine businesses that make silent calls, if you believe the calls you're receiving are being made by an individual and that someone is deliberately trying to intimidate you, then you should contact the police. 

To find contact details of your local police station or neighbourhood policing team visit the Police.UK website.

What about spam text messages?

If you are receiving spam text messages there are a number of different ways you can report them and stop them dead in their tracks.

Read our guide: How to Stop Spam Text Messages for more help combating them.


Thanks Martin!
Very useful information that affects most of us I think. I will pass this info to friends!

by serena1, 25 Apr 2012

thankyou so much theese were problems affecting not just us but our parents too it was getting to the point where they would not answer the phone and just 1471 the number to see if they recognised it,The silent calls were realy bothering them when i was able to explain the cause after reading your article this reasured them that it was not malicious of thankyou again on behalf of them.

by leebee61, 2 May 2012

This is very useful. We are fans of TPS but have been pestered by automated phonecalls. Whilst they need your permission they seem to obtain it without you realising eg. when entering a competition, sending for a sample etc; so I've launched a government Epetition to make them illegal on.. If every one who was pestered by these calls signed the petition it would be prety hefty!

by pfaas, 12 May 2012

If you link it with Facebook you might get more votes.

Please explain that a lot of people will worry that these calls might be from burglars.

As to those competitions be EXTREMELY CAREFUL. In fact I would advise people to avoid them like the plague. What you get is a series of fairly easy questions. You answer these correctly and they then inform you that you have now been entered into a lottery. The trick is that they ask for your mobile number so that they can inform you if you have won. What then happens is that they send REVERSE CHARGE TEXTS to your phone draining it of all its credit. In my case the phone had been mislaid and by the time it was found about £7 had been taken. These scammers deserve to be hung drawn and quartered and their heads stuck on a pole as at the moment nothing at all is being done about these thefts.

by Davey123, 4 Jan 2013

well said davey

by gregbu, 20 Jul 2014

All this information is fine, but when wee received a silent call at 0313 hours this morning and the caller withheld their number, this doesn't help.

by rexblu, 8 Aug 2012

Depending on your phone provider you might be able to block withheld numbers. I have however had calls from ridiculous numbers such as 000000000000 so the y evidently know how to beat the system.

by Davey123, 4 Jan 2013

Have just tried to register with TPS but were informed that our phone number was already registered with them. Have been inundated the last few months with nuisance calls so TPS obviously doesn't work.

by priman, 6 Nov 2012

Hi Priman, it's worth bearing in mind that TPS will only cut down the number of sales calls you will receive, unfortunately spam calls or other nuisance calls may be unaffected, especially if they originate from overseas.

by Martin from, 6 Nov 2012

It's spam calls that are driving us mad. Nearly every day we have 2/3. What can we do about it

by priman, 6 Nov 2012

Hi Priman, you might want to speak with your landline provider, they may have some services available that could cut out these calls, however there may be an additional charge so you would have to weigh up whether it would be worth the cost.

Depending on your actual handset you may also be able to block individual numbers if they are continually calling your number, you would need to check you user manual to see if your phone has this feature available.

by Martin from, 6 Nov 2012

Thank you. I'l see what we can do.

by priman, 7 Nov 2012

I am receiving silent calls daily. i'm already on the TPS list. TPS cannot stop silent calls (don't know why - they don't explain). I've complained to OFCOM but they say they can only add my complaint to all the others!! BT also only advise to register with TPS, So all this so-called advice really gets you simply going round in circles - and still the silent calls keep coming. 0141 236 2821 is the number calling me 3 or 4 times daily.

by catmadwoman, 4 Dec 2012

What about silent calls (or marketing calls) and there is no contact number? Just had one a few moments ago with no number to reply to or report.

by sanham, 5 Dec 2012

One always worries that it might be burglars trying to find out whether you are out. This is especially the case with 0161 numbers.

The town where I live has IMHO been turned into a gulag by the council who rehouse "problem people" from all over the country. One such import has 27 convictions for 46 offences and is a drug addict. Does he go burgling? Is the Pope Catholic? I really don't know what the world is coming to these days with the tentacles of drug abuse reaching into the far corners of everyone's lives.

My home,sheds and garden have all been burgled on numerous occasions and before Christmas a holly plant was dug up and stolen. As Morrisons used to sell little holly plants in plant pots for £2 presumably the scumbag hasn't got two quid because he blew everything on drugs and booze..

This country is fubar.

by Davey123, 4 Jan 2013

Surely the 'phone companies must know who these nuisances are from the size of their bills?

I really feel sorry for the guys in these call centres as I am now becoming very rude to them.

Have signed the e-petition but with only 273 signatures it's sadly not going to have any effect.

by sfj642, 4 Jan 2013

273 votes so there is a long way to go but if it was publicised better on social networking sites with explanations (like it might be burglars) it could go viral.

by Davey123, 4 Jan 2013

added to FB

by sfj642, 5 Jan 2013

got a silent call at 1.30am this morning - how annoying can they get?

by sfj642, 22 Jan 2013

This information is all well and good IF there is a number when you dial 1471. But.... there NEVER IS! These companies are wise to your suggestions and their number is always withheld. SO, what can one do about those, nothing nor can OFCOM as - no number no possibility of tracing who is making the calls.

by wjl1952, 9 Jan 2013

Here's a thought. BT, Talk-Talk etc offer an "Anonymous Caller Reject" option. They charge a hefty fee (£3-£5 per MONTH, why so expensive? marketing losses perhaps?) which stops anonymous UK callers calling your number - they hear a "This number does not receive anonymous calls" type message. However it only works for UK numbers, and they say there may be issues with calls from overseas (call centres I guess). Has anyone tried this?

by dickiedyce, 21 Jan 2013

what about number witheld calls?

by madras, 8 May 2013

withheld numbers could also be from a company that you actually deal -
as they are using an internal phone connected to a switchboard
when calling out which is also automatically redirected by the company switchboard to allow outgoing calls

by backjack, 27 Aug 2014

Call Prevention Registry offers a more comprehensive opt-out subscription based service than TPS, promising to block all these calls.

by call123, 21 Jun 2013

CPR's Call Blocker is also pitched to eliminate these silent phone calls, in conjunction with your caller ID

by call123, 21 Jun 2013

I want to set up my phone so that all overseas numbers and number withheld numbers are charge at say £15 a minute. if we could all do this we could put a stop to these calls for good and in case BT reads this I would not mind sharing the profit with them !!!

by dapark, 11 Jul 2014

Although the caller's number can be blocked from the subscriber, BT or whoever 'can' see it. Persuade them to disclose it to you, claiming persistent nuisance.

by pa1189, 20 Jul 2014
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