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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?

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.

michael tonks says:
27 April 2017

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

Hilary Roberts says:
27 April 2017

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

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”?

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

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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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

Yep, me too, almost every call is international or trying to sell something,and BT just say sorry,not available at your exchange.

Pat Alexander says:
5 October 2017

EvenBTs own staff don’t appear to know that this service is not available if you don’t have a fibre optic line. It took them several days of promising to install the service before they finally said they couldn’t! As a major communications business there own ability to communicate with their customers is dire.

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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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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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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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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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.

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.)

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.

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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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.

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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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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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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I get 4 or 5 calls a day! We have stopped answering the phone at all. They all ring off when they get ansaphone. I rang BT but they said they couldn’t do anything as as they are nearly all number withheld. This was only about a week ago so why wasn’t I offered the above service.

I’m getting spam calls with a clearly auto generated foreign accent speech and the number changes every time and they are not recognised by bogus report sites (they won’t of course because the permutations are mind-boggling)

We can get to Mars etc but we are all so clearly vulnerable to tech (spam calls, spam social media, hacking, phishing and…in the USA…shooting.)So we need to buy dearer blocker phones and pay BT etc extra money or log on their website the limitless numbers?

Plus we have to have line phones on tv/broadband packages.I think I’ll go and live in the New Forest.

An afterthought. One thing Russia could do (simply because they can) is these types of calls targeting Countries. A few years ago that would sound ridiculous. Nowadays it’s almost mundane set against what is actually happening.

You can only block 100 numbers which is next to useless, it also lets through numbers which look like international numbers.

it’s good because I can check my mums call online and then block them, but its very reactive, and she has been conned by bogus callers since she has been using this.

You need to have at least 1000 numbers and the blocking needs to be far better; all that said its better than nothing.

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So far as I can see the only way to stop spam calls to my landline is to stop using it. I’ve signed up to BT call blocking and asked for blocking of international, number withheld and the BT list. Also added some numbers but these change, same voice and message but a different number. Surely BT could identify changed numbers and block them. I would like an allow list please. I could put friends and family on that and block all the rest.

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I have stumbled upon this thread as I am trying to find a suitable call blocker for my 81 year old mum-in-law who has vascular dementia. She appears to receive loads of unwanted calls. She has a main-line phone via SSE who she has been with for years. She’s unlikely to change this. I have been reading up about white and black numbers, and the different options available. She would need something very simple to use. We are currently also setting up home support, which means she will start to receive phone calls from different agencies and maybe even carers mobiles, which we wouldn’t like blocked. I have been looking at a CPR V5000 Call Blocker, so that she can simply press the big red button when its a scam call. Does anyone have any other suitable suggestions please? Ta muchly 🙂

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