/ Technology

Will BT’s blacklist stop nuisance calls before your phone rings?

Phones hanging

In the latest win for our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, BT is launching a free service to block nuisance calls before they even get to you.

BT’s new nuisance call blocking service is set to launch later this year, and follows similar commitments previously announced by TalkTalk.

BT blocks nuisance calls

The phone provider says it will harness ‘huge computer power’ to analyse and monitor calls to its 10 million customers, with any rogue numbers (generally those that make a huge volume of calls) being added to a ‘blacklist’. Incoming calls coming from these numbers will then be diverted to a junk voice box.

This blacklist will also be expanded if lots of BT’s customers identify unwanted numbers they want to divert.

BT estimates that this will block up to 25 million unwanted calls each and every week.

You’ll also be able to divert unwanted calls to your own personal ‘blacklist’, adding individual unwanted numbers and nominating whole categories of calls you want to avoid, such as international calls or withheld numbers. BT will then prevent these types of calls from reaching your home.

More action against nuisance calls

This is a big step in the right direction for millions of BT customers, but it’s not the end of nuisance calls.

Our campaign, which now has more than 300,000 supporters, has prompted lots of action from the Government, regulators and now technology companies, but there’s still more to do. We need to see more action taken by the industry and the Government to reduce the anxiety caused by unsolicited calls.

Are you happy to see BT bringing in a way to block nuisance calls even before the phone rings? Do you want other companies to follow suit?

Updated 17 January 2017: BT launches call blocking service

BT has launched its new ‘Call Protect’ service, which aims to block up to 30 million nuisance calls a week.

If you’re a BT customer you’ll be able to opt into the service for free. The service will divert nuisance calls before they even reach your home, unlike the call blocking devices you can buy separately.

Vickie Sheriff, our Director of Campaigns and Communications, said:

‘We have long campaigned for tougher action to tackle this problem and it’s encouraging to see new technology being rolled out as part of the solution.

‘Now it needs to deliver results for the millions of people harassed every day by nuisance calls, and we expect other companies to follow suit with their own solutions.’

If you’re with BT, would you opt in to its new nuisance call blocking service? Do you, like 100% of 3,800 voters, want other telecoms providers to follow suit?

John B says:
12 February 2016

Why not make automatic software driven ( computer) mass dialling illegal except for emergency systems ?

Great point! Agree!

I agree

I heartily agree. Even better make it illegal to scam a calls origin. A ‘new’ (at least I have only just discovered it) practice is for so called reputable companies to use an auto dialling service from another company (UK resident?) from whom the calls are transferred to the real caller either on answer or typically when you press 5.
I am now adopting the practice of pressing 5 and then trying to waste as much of the callers time as possible.

W.R.B.Chown says:
5 June 2016

It is a misuse of a convenient invention and is akin to burglary.

My thoughts on this……

BT don’t do anything for free. BT caller display was free then they charged I think £7.50 a quarter.

How many calls have to be registered before a number is considered a nuisance caller?

BT’s ‘huge computer power’ would already know numbers that make a huge volume of calls. They could have done something about it years ago but as they sell blocks of numbers to nuisance callers, and sell you equipment to stop them, it was not in their interest.

How will BT deal with spoofed numbers? How will they deal with nuisance callers that spoof themselves as legitimate businesses e.g. hospitals?

What about legitimate companies that end up on this list? Will BT charge them to investigate or make them pay for adding them to a legitimate list?

There are many telephone providers – landline, mobile and cable, and unless they all work together this cannot possibly work.

Do I want all my calls monitored? No. What will BT do with the data it collects on us?

Buying and selling of personal data is big business. How will it be used against us next if it can’t be used for nuisance phone calls?

Watch out for BT advertising their nuisance call blocking service in a bid to get more customers.

Sorry, this might sound like a big step, but it is a very small chip that BT will profit from.

looks like you have hit the nail on the head.

Agree with your comment and don’t forget that 1471 was free for a long time but is now charged. Even if one had landline calls free anytime without restriction, they still charge for 1471

I came to rant, even though I don’t really have the time. Thank you alfa. You saved me the trouble.

Kay says:
25 March 2016

Ha, ha, Gina, me too – well said Alfa! BT’s action can be summed up in one word: Cynical.

Clare says:
11 January 2017

God forbid BT should do something to try and get more customers or make a profit….it’s not as if they’re a business or anything!

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john oakley says:
12 February 2016

Anything that cuts out this sort of invasion should be used

These unwanted and invasive calls should be eliminated

Margo says:
12 February 2016

Our mobiles are with o2 and landline Virgin Media. I would like them pressured too.

you can report them them to vodaphone

Tracey says:
23 February 2016

I report scam texts I receive back to Vodafone.

Donald says:
12 February 2016

I still get calls from “Microsoft Windows” scam. I even try to say that I am a technical guy from Microsoft (which I am not) and the last time, the guy calling had the brass neck to suggest meeting me, before cutting off. These scoundrels are getting better with it and will terrify more vulnerable people. It is wrong.

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

When I got a call from Microsoft Windows, I told them
that I already had double glazing, and they cleared down immediately.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Kay says:
25 March 2016

I love that – I’m definitely going to use it when I get another one of these calls. He, he, thanks! 🙂

We get a silent call in the early afternoon almost every day. Caller display describes it as “out of area” or “international”, but the characteristics of the call suggest that it is from the same source. If it is an international call, how do UK companies control it? The lines through which the call comes are operated by Open Reach, but I haven’t heard what Open Reach’s policy is on nuisance calls.
Mind you, as Open Reach do not do anything without instructions from BT and BT is almost impossible to talk to, and only knows about selling things that earn them money ( and then failing to maintain them) there is no hope!

Entirely agree. The only way we could get rid of this menace was to buy a call blocker from Truecall. No more cold calls so well worth the money but try getting the Utility companies to stop this nonsense of “number withheld”.!!!

I use a call blocker but it did not work (not from Truecall) so I cancelled it.

Roger Charlton says:
12 February 2016

Trouble is some of this callers are now using number withheld so you have to answer it as Doctors Dentists and Hospitals do this as well and according to B T you have got to give them the number of the nuisance caller

Liz Hayes says:
12 February 2016

I am already with Telephone Preference, but that doesn’t seem to stop all calls. I particularly dislike the ones which say you have microsoft computer faults – Clearly a scam, but the unwary might be taken in. I just leave the handset dangling for 10 minutes!

The TPS stops unwanted calls from legitimate companies that follow the rules.

It has no effect on scams or criminals, nor could it ever hope to do so.

Tony F says:
12 February 2016

BT8500 phone, nothing else needed for landline.

This is the only system to issue a challenge to unknown callers, thereby giving genuine callers a chance to get through.

Everything else blocks indiscriminately, e.g. all withheld numbers or all international calls, and with no way to review exactly what has been blocked.

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Yes, but CPR also blocks genuine callers with no chance for them to get through. The trueCall units issue a verbal challenge to unknown callers.

CPR is also on the “list of things to avoid” as published on the TPS website.

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Blocking based on CLI is doomed to failure. The scammers have already learnt to keep on changing the number displayed to avoid this happening.

A system where all unknown callers are challenged, irrespective of CLI or not, is the only proven effective technique. That’s the one used by the trueCall units and by the BT 8500 and BT 8600 series Call Guardian handsets.

In some areas of the country, local councils have funded provision of these units to certain vulnerable and disadvantaged people. The trueCall system could be made available on all landlines and mobiles by building the functionality into the phone network itself.

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I joined TPS, initially to enable my number to be listed as not wanting cold callers but also to educate myself on the whole problem. The Which campaign expanded on that and we are here today hoping BT will come up with the goodies to finally call a halt (because their blocking phones are only as good as the user who programmes them!) – my only quibble is this: – BT? – are you going to milk us AGAIN for the privilege of this offer? You have done so with caller ID and other so called customer led initiatives. For once stand up, hands up and be counted – do the right thing by ALL customers and do this for free. Who knows you may even get people coming back to you if their providers fail to follow suit.
Here’s hoping …………… for a quieter phone!

Caller ID was designed before scammers and thieves found out how to cheat it. The telephone industry needs to find a way to verify the caller’s number, so Caller ID is trusted again, like websites have done using certificates.

John Chubb says:
12 February 2016

The Government has been pathetic over this issue.It makes you wonder if some Ministers have financial interests in the companies running these call operations.As for the TPS they have proved pretty useless in the past.I bought call blocking device which has helped to reduce the calls but withheld numbers and International or ‘out of area’ calls still sometimes come through.

I have a mobile phone from Tesco and get virtually no calls (well done Tesco) but my work phone from EE receives many calls a week and some are from my home phone number area, no idea how they do that as the calls are not from my home dialling code area.

The government needs to step in and stop this invasion of our privacy

Muffball says:
18 February 2016

Yes – legislation is needed which requires all cold-calling centers to reveal their telephone numbers.

When I receive a nuisance call it feels like an intrusion into my privacy. Like a burglar almost, so I give them grief. The person cannot usually pronounce my name, they get “friendly” and that’s when I give them the verbal abuse. This usually results in them slamming the phone down or swearing at me. I actually get a great deal of pleasure out of this and I think that the more the callers are abused the less likely they are to want to continue calling people. My work colleagues also like listening in and we have a good laugh in seeing how long we can hold the callers attention.
My car accident within the last 2 years – well we’ve had fun with these guys, 20minute record!!
My credit rating – They are boring so I dispose of these calls quickly.
PPI – Why would I let them have part of my award, if I was due any!?? Same with bank fees.
Have fun with these guys, I always press the phone me back option with automated calls and get them to ring me back for some abuse. They will soon get the message!

We shouldn’t have these nuisance calls at home if we want anything we would get in touch with companies twice I have fallen getting to the phone only to be tied to the phone for a while and it stresses me out some days twelve times in a day I am seriously contemplating getting rid of the phone because of it

Jay kay says:
12 February 2016

Most o fthe nuisance calls I get are from organisations content to spoof their CLI numbers, those operating via an IP network and / or otherwise obfuscate who they are. I also get too many calls from out-and-out criminals intent on telling me that Ihave a computer virus.

I have yet to find a convincing explanation fo how thise calls can be stopped.

I had an unwanted call on my mobile yesterday. He wanted to know if I’d had a road traffic accident. I asked what business it was of his. He said his company was offering assistance. I asked for its name and he said Albany Assist. I kept the conversation going as I wanted to find out how they had my name and phone number but didn’t get anywhere near the 20 minutes quoted above – just under 6 minutes in fact.
He did however get pretty ratty with me and challenged me as to whether I had the mental capacity to answer. Anyway I had to break off – it was time to drive my wife back from shopping and I didn’t want to continue whist driving.
I hate these calls and made this very clear to the caller. They must either be paid a lot or have very thick skins!
I asked where he had obtained my number from and he said they bought up blocks of names and numbers and then confirmed that they then rang round on speculation. It was apparently my fault I was on this list because I must have either not ticked a box asking for my details to be passed on or had ticked the box agreeing this. I have no knowledge of this circumstance occurring as I limit what I do and check for such boxes but of course you can never be sure.
Because I refused to advise whether I had had an accident or not he said he would pass my contact details round to make sure I had lots more calls.(
P.S. I haven’t actually had an accident.

The whole notion of ‘consenting to unsolicited calls’ is a complete load of nonsense. No-one would ever ‘consent’ to being called by companies they had never heard of.

Kay says:
25 March 2016

I don’t think they’re paid particularly well, although they’re probably incentivised to make more calls, but they definitely have thick skins! From my experience, most of them are too thick to be bothered by what we say to them and I think this is the nub of the problem – they’re the sort of people who can’t get meaningful, worthwhile jobs.

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Michael says:
12 February 2016

The worst thing about this practise is, they are totally immune to the house residents circumstances, do they ever ponder or think that the people they phone are caring for someone who is terminally ill, and the last thing they need is to be harassed and bullied by unwanted phone calls, and I speak from personal experience.
The Government MUST be made to take action and if need be close them down, the TPS has no teeth to bite back, other than fine them, I have given up providing them with the information I was gleaning from the cold caller and passing on to TPS. only to receive the same company and PERSON calling again 6 -8 weeks later.
I have now installed my own “Number Blocker” which fortunately I am in the position to afford to purchase, and these cold calls have been reduced by 98% .
Sadly this is not he case for everyone, and I feel sorry for all those living with these type of circumstances, caring for the sick and elderly, and there should be additional help made available by the Government for them to be given priority for these calls to be redirected and the Company responsible additionally penalised.

The Claims Management Regulator has the power to prevent the companies that it regulates and their agents, overseas or otherwise, from using the telephone for marketing purposes.

The CMR already prevents these companies from pounding the streets and banging on doors due to the large amount of nuisance that would be caused by unsolicited visitors turning up on the doorstep.

Eileen Bishop says:
12 February 2016

thank goodness for which magazine for getting this done.

on one day i had 16 nuisance calls and they varied from heavy breathing,silence, putting the phone down.
i have just joined a nuisance call group,but they have,nt stopped the calls.i had to pay £49.95,so i have asked for my money back,i have also sent emails to this company and they keep failing,so i think it was a scam,i also told one call that if they carried on ringing i would ring the police and put a tracer on the call

Yes, it was almost certainly a scam. There are many of these, from fake registries to useless ‘call blockers’ and worse.

There is no charge to register with TPS and this will stop some types of calls. It will not stop calls from scammers or criminals.

C Beavers says:
12 February 2016

As I don’t walk very well I find it hard to keep getting up to answer the phone to these waste of time calls. You have to answer because it may be important. These calls are really not.

Add ‘cordless phone’ to the wish list for your next birthday or for Christmas.