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Can BT’s call-divert service really cut off nuisance callers?

Cutting off nuisance calls

Nuisance calls are a big problem. In response, BT has a launched a new, free nuisance call-divert service. Guest author Kelly from BT Consumer explains how it works.

Many of you here on Which? Conversation will be well aware of the menace of nuisance calls and texts. Indeed, over half a million people have backed the Which? campaign to call time on them.

On average, people receive four nuisance phone calls every week, according to BT research.

The same research also shows that many people find these calls more than just annoying: two-thirds of women and just over half of men find them stressful, and more than a quarter of all people are concerned about their parents or grandparents receiving them.

Nuisance calls are most commonly from accident claims companies, but also regularly include calls from PPI companies plus computer technical support and personal data request scams.

But the big question is what can be done to reduce these calls?


Customer protection

In response to the growing problem, BT has launched its new, free Call Protect service for its customers.

The first of its kind in the UK, it could see 30m nuisance calls per week automatically diverted to a junk voicemail box, before they can be answered.

Data shows that up to 15m calls a week will be blocked from personal accident claims and PPI companies alone.

This has been made possible by technology that processes large amounts of live data to identify rogue numbers (often those calling large numbers of people) and adds them to the BT blacklist.

Personal blacklist

Although the blacklist will divert the top offending nuisance callers, for calls not captured by the technology, customers will be able to compile their own personal blacklist by adding individual unwanted numbers. They do this by dialling 1572 after receiving the call or by going online.

If large numbers of customers identify troublesome numbers they wish to divert, these will be added to the wider BT blacklist.

Customers can also set BT Call Protect to divert whole categories of calls such as unrecognised calls or those from withheld numbers. The service will then prevent these types of calls from reaching the home by diverting them into the junk voicemail.

This is a guest contribution by Kelly Barlow from BT Consumer. All views are Kelly’s own and not necessarily those shared by Which?.

Do you think BT’s call-divert service will work? If you aren’t a BT customer, would you like your phone provider to offer a similar service and what else do you think can be done to crack down on nuisance calls?

Comments
Guest
rion Owens says:
27 April 2017

I have a fibre optic line for my phone and broadband. BT are still unable to provide the Call Protect service for fibre optic customers.

Guest
michael tonks says:
27 April 2017

well rion Owens I have fiber optic and my calls have dropped 98%

Guest
Hilary Roberts says:
27 April 2017

We opted in and then opted back out again once we realised our answerphone would no longer work.

Guest
Alan M. says:
27 April 2017

where you get normally formatted numbers, call protect can help stop these calls. However, I have received repeated calls from a number which only indicates “00” on the phone display. I am not sure if these can be blocked using the BT system or either it may bar any legitimate calls beginning with “00”?

Guest
john yeomans says:
27 April 2017

I bought a BT blocker beginning Feb; 2017 and I am so thankful I did . As you required I have listed , from 14/2/17 the nuisance calls received. Prior to buying the blocker we were getting approx. 11 calls daily. NOW 2- 3 plus odd days none at all . The list contains international, withheld , and uk calls . If you require I can submit the list of phone No’s and times

Guest
Alan Bissett says:
27 April 2017

I started keeping a diary on week commencing 6th. Feb. At the end of February we had only received 2 unwanted calls. End of March it had gone up to 6. It is now nearly the end of April and it has shot up to 12. What does that tell us?

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Guest

Alan-It tells you the sales callers are getting more shrewd. Blocking sales calls requires looking for key words +sentences in the email but telecom companies underestimate the intellect of the companies touting for business . Dont believe me ? – well just click on a website for businesses called- Sales HQ and they tell you how the first email is seen as spam and the “amended one ” isn’t . its all down to semantics and is a very simple form of how our government “services ” look out for “key ” words . Go to : http://saleshq.monster.com/training/articles/154-how-to-use-e-mail-cold-calls , you have to hand it to the sales departments , nothing stops them.

Guest
Sue says:
27 April 2017

I applied for Call Protect but had a phone call from BT and was told it wasn’t available in my area. So that was a waste of time. I get at least 5 calls a day to the point I don’t answer the phone now, I wait until the answer phone switches on and I know who it is

Guest
Betty Parr says:
28 April 2017

I guess its a good idea for some people but I find it a real nuisance when trying to contact a friend and getting blocked. She doesn’t regularly check on the 1572 answerphone message so I can’t get an immediate answer to my query/invitation. I ‘m sure there must be other elderly people who have signed up to it in good faith and don’t realise they can be missing calls from their friends.

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Guest

Betty why dont you ask your friend to allow your telephone number to get through? Its up to the receiver of a call whether they want all or some calls to get through.

Guest
Libby says:
28 April 2017

This was advertised by you as free, but when I went on the BT website to enrol, at the last minute before checking out it said it was £1.75 per month. This annoyed me that they weren’t up front about it so I didn’t join it.

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Guest

It is free Libby to BT customers but you do pay a charge for VIP and Do Not Disturb unless you are already paying for Call-Minder, its in the detail. : http://home.bt.com/tech-gadgets/phones-tablets/bt-call-protect-why-bts-free-service-can-help-you-banish-nuisance-calls-11364136279611 for details.

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Guest

Here’s my simple plan:

1. My landline is only used for my broadband;
2. I won’t answer my mobile phone unless I recognise the incoming caller as a “friendly”; if I cannot accept any incoming calls, I either put it into flight mode or switch it off altogether.
3. Other callers can leave voice mail if they want. I usually pick up and deal with voicemail quite promptly.

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Guest

And I bet it never fails DerekP.

Guest
John says:
29 April 2017

I received a ‘cold call’ from an outfit claiming they were responsible for running your protection service. They addressed me by name and confirmed my landline number. After a few exchanges I was asked to confirm my ID by telling them the expire date of the card which is used to make bill payments monthly automatically.

I declined and ended the call. Call to 1471 revealed a caller number beginning ‘008…’, i.e from North America.

After a couple of minutes the call repeated. I challenged them to make clear who they worked for, and was told they were working for ‘The Government’ but did not understand when I asked which government department was involved. The caller claimed to be situated at an address in George Street, London. Clearly he had no understanding of HM government ministry or associated department structures and insisted he was calling under a gov. supported contract to ‘manage’ the Caller Protection Service. I terminated the call.

Shortly thereafter the call recurred and was picked up by my wife who told them I was not available and rang off.

No further calls!

I make these comment as requested – if I can help further please call or e-mail me.

John Parks.

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Guest

John , its obvious your caller was not a UK national but you are probably right I think also USA , it their stamp upon it . CPS (LTD) was dissolved in -2010 in the UK (Wales ) . India isn’t up to this level yet (but give them time ) . It seems to have resurfaced though in Bournemouth and has a capital of £100 -thats right £100 as of Feb -2015. Go Daddy (USA) has 4 domains that are unclaimed using that moniker 1 being .org.uk The website holding this info on companies in the UK has red lettering saying – active- proposal to Strike off (when checked on -1 JUly -2016). So if Which is claiming that this company is “looking after it ” then God help Which !!! -as you seem to claim ????

Guest
John Parks says:
30 April 2017

For the record, I did not say the cold call came from ‘Which’ rather that it was a cold-call by a man (with an Asiatic type of voice) who claimed to be contracted to conduct calls to CPS user enrolled by the ‘Which’ recruitment initiative. As a matter of personal security I do not normally engage with any offer by cold-callers. I went along with this one purely to waste his time while I hoped to help him hang himself by revealing his details and lack of bona-fides! I got a little and reported same here.

Guest
Don Wycherley says:
29 April 2017

Can’t see what all the fuss is about – we installed a call blocker about 2 years ago and since then NO nuisance calls have got through. It challenges all unknown callers to say their name and press # and no nuisance callers have done that – presumably got the message that they would be told to get lost if they did. Legitimate callers answer the challenge and get through and we can unblock them. (We do have to pay for Caller ID of course – but that’s useful anyway. Still get plenty of nuisance calls on the mobile unfortunately – can block those individually.)

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Guest

Had 6 calls today ( so far ) which I’ve needed to blacklist. Most (5) are 01267/8. So to me it’s clear that one group of scammers has just bought up a block of these numbers to get round Call Protect.
And by the way pressing 3 still sometimes just disconnects me with no message.

Guest
Robert Baker says:
26 June 2017

BT claim this service is free, but they raised the line rental by £1 a month to pay for it. So, use it or not, you are paying for it.
Personally I haven’t had a single call go to my junk voicemail box, and the number of nuisance calls is around about the same.
Also, very curious sign up process. I thought I would set it up for my parents, so went to the BT website and put in my parents phone number and postcode. I was able not only to sign them up, but also view the other packages they had subscribed to in their BT package. Some serious privacy issues here !

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Guest

The basic version is free Robert , if you want the additional features you pay extra . Unless the law has changed you cant change the contract on somebody else,s telephone service to which you have no legal claim on. That would mean you could call BT and say the neighbour down the street ( whom you hate ) wants your top BT TV service so start it now . I have just been onto BT Sales and they are not allowed to divulge information about another account holder over the phone UNLESS , in your circumstances your parents have PROVIDED authorization and that you have been given the full account number and personal details by your parents needed to verify BT doing this including any passwords,etc. Did your parents okay them paying for the paid for version Robert ?

Guest
Robert Baker says:
28 June 2017

Duncan – you did not address my point. BT raised the line rental in July 2016 – John Petter stating “we will also be launching a comprehensive defence against nuisance calls that will divert up to 25 million unwanted calls a week before they ever bother BT customers.” – So to say it is free is absurd.
And to your second point about enrolling my parents on the service. I did not call BT, I used the online enrollment tool. I did not enroll then for the paid version, but only the free service. I did this without their consent, and only knowing their postcode and telephone number.
https://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumerOrders/control/orderproduct?productId=CON-27455&productKey=CON-CHANGE-CF

Try it yourself, there is no protection here apart from a statement –
I confirm I’m the account holder or have their permission to continue *

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Guest

Robert -taken directly from the Guardian- Talk-Talk raise prices again and thats just one ISP check up SKY,s rental charges , I have a list of companies who either charge more than BT for equivalent services or slightly less but your first sentence directly links -BT rental increased by £1 to pay for the free service which is not correct .

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Guest

Robert-I had a look at that URL – its-Progress your order , it means you have already carried out a transaction with BT and are checking its progress , that is not the same as applying for that service thats why you can do what you did . BT,s Call-Protect is free and to activate it -if you are a BT customer-just LOG-IN . On logging in BT as an ISP knows all your personal details its done by algorithms etc I should know I worked for them they know a lot more than you think so if you were a phony you wouldn’t get by step 1 , so its not as insecure as you think

Guest
Robert Baker says:
30 June 2017

Duncan – the information you are providing is incorrect. Anybody can go to that link and enter a BT phone number with the postcode of the address under which that number is registered. I tried it as I stated above, and I was able to register someone without their consent. Fact.

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Guest

Robert I phoned BT direct and their official statement is that you first must log into MY BT then place an order then you can go to >Progress my Order webpage , progress my order means you have already applied for something so its not for somebody applying for Call-Protect initially.

Guest
derek says:
25 July 2017

i have a troublesome caller same time different days.tried to get it blocked,now the number is withheld but i can tell its the same person buy the background noise.no joy!

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Guest

Derek if your phone system/company cant stop a withheld number buy a call-blocker if its a landline, cell-net phones have apps that can block those calls.