Is it true that Telstra or other communication companies are double dipping on our not so $ilent  telephone numbers?

A reader who states that their family has had a silent number for over 10 years, is puzzled at to why they receive so many inconvenient phone calls from telemarketers.  This  subject  has been aired publicly on many occasions, so why is it on the increase?
After questioning several telemarketers during the week, our reader reports that they all have different answers.  Generally they say it is in the white pages.  Wrong answer.

It can also depend on how you phrase your question too.  If you say you have a silent number, then a standard answer might be, “Oh, our list is several years old”.   On telemarker said her list was “8” years old. Can anyone believe that?  Another way to phrase it could be, “Who are you looking for?”  If the telemarketer says your name, which they usually do, then you can ask them how they managed to get hold of your SILENT number.

One operator told our reader that telemarking companies were able to obtain silent telephone numbers legally from  $ervice providers  through “an exemption clause”.   Is this without the paying customers knowlege or permission to be harrassed?  Obviously!

Another operator, embarrassed that she had rung a silent number and felt “setup”, revealed that they obtained their numbers from: Astron Communications 0282069888 (au)

Astron Privacy Statement – includes:
“Astron is committed to providing you with the highest levels of customer service. This includes protecting your privacy”. 

Nine times out of ten, the harrassing telemarketer is ringing from a silent number themselves.  So they have your number and name, but in reality they could be anyone posing as a telemarketer.  Often these strangers have information about your current phone account and sometimes even your electricity account. 

How do we know who these people are, asking us personal and financial questions about our private services?  Like the popular survey right in the middle of dinner, wanting to know how many television sets and computers your family uses.  Nice try whoever you really are.

As the country never runs out of telemarketers or annoying phone calls, then how SILENT is SILENT?  A silent number comes up as PRIVATE on the call display, so it appears that consumers paying for a private or silent number are not receiving the service that they are being charged for.  Our reader who isn’t into tricky loop-holes feels violated and grossly inconvenienced as well as believing they have been ripped off by their service provider for the last 10 years.  How does one call this in?  Is it a police matter, a civil matter, or does it have a  more upmarket label like “white or blue collar crime”?

The simplest way might be to not have a silent number and impolitely tell each telemarketer to RACK OFF,  as their harrassment would probably be no greater, instead of assuming that something like basic human rights in life and ethics in corporations are a reality.

One newspaper reported back in 2007 ” Telstra rings up $30m a year in silent number fees ”  That’s a fair bit of dosh.  If they are selling our silent numbers to  telemarketing companies as well, then  it may well account for their hefty profits and our ever empty wallets.

It seems like a sellout of trust by some companies who not only have a reputation for a disorganised service, but  ratting on us behind our backs by violating our paid for privacy.  Forget the red tape Acts that they may be able to quote.  Discuss this openly and ethically with the consumer who is oblivious to the millions of Acts upon Acts that corporations hide behind.  The consumer stimulates the economy.  However it seems “service  providers” are consuming the consumers.

Most households these days also have a vast array of communiction devices.  Internet, mobiles, landlines, skype. Are consumers really checking their accounts thoroughly?

In contacting one service provider (this was Telstra by the way) regarding a few years of charges on a mobile account for an internet package not requested (or connected either!), the customer service officer said, “we only refund up to 6 months”.   “Pigs backside you do.  We would like to have copies of the telephone tape recordings where we agreed a service like internet on the mobile” said our reader.  “I’ve never even heard of it so why would I order it?”

Not Good Enough – Australia’s Customer Complaints Website has some interesting stories from consumers.  The stories are better than the answers, however it reveals an unawareness by the public that their silent numbers are being obtained.  It’s a little like finding your credit card details for sale on the internet

Silent Number – sold by Telstra to telemarketers


Telecommunications Ombudsman:  Tel:  1800 062 058 to lodge a complaint over the phone between 9am and 5pm (Victorian time), Monday to Friday.
Free call from a fixed line; standard mobile call rates from a mobile.

The DO NOT CALL REGISTER in Australia is:  Tel: 1300792958.   After thirty days the  annoying calls may stop.  Wonder how that happens?