/ 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?

Peter Gormley says:
12 February 2016

Does this call blocking include mobile phones as I receive 4-5 calls a day from a certain number with a Birmingham area code when I answer nobody speaks if I make a return call somebody says I will put you through still nobody answers.My landline is okay as I subscribe to TCP service and only got a call about every 2 months or so

This whole campaign is utterly stupid. If you get a modestly priced answering machine (would you know BT do one) and don’t answer it unless you can recognise the number then the nuisance caller (or auto dialler) ceases. Those who really want to talk to you will leave a message. Simple? Yes. Effective ? 100%. Costly? zero. So why blame the telephone companies? It’ll just add to all our costs. Wake up folks, it’s time to look after yourselves and not leave it to others.

It’s what I do, BUT…. they haven’t stopped and though I don’t answer any of these calls I have to stop what I’m doing, temporarily, to find out if I need to deal with the call. This does reduce the nuisance value of the calls but ignoring them doesn’t stop them coming. If BT can stop them at source, they should do it and should have done it ages ago. Suggesting that the campaign is unnecessary is suggesting that the few thousand of us who have written about it on these pages haven’t been bothered by this menace. They are a plague and they need eradicating.

Hear! Hear! Vynor. Well said. It doesn’t affect me but I know a curse when I see one.

chrissie says:
12 February 2016

these nuisance cold callers upset the elderly and vulnerable. ?They think they have done something wrong when there is nobody there and get stressed when they cannot understand the strong accents those who do actually speak have. the latest batch of 0203 numbers which change with each call are the latest pest

Doreen says:
15 February 2016

‘Phoned BT early December to ask if they could do anything about the nuisance calls I was getting – they asked if I had managed to keep a record of any of the numbers; I had, and BT made a note – I haven’t heard from those numbers again, so thank you BT.

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Julie maltman says:
15 February 2016

Totally agree with all above,damned nuisance and invasion of privacy.should not be allowed to access this information.stop companies side lines.

Derek says:
16 February 2016

I have one of the latest BT phones with call guard on it where an unknown caller has to announce themselves so you know who it is before you answer. Nuisance calls are computer dialled so no announcement no call. In the 4 months I’ve had the phone not one nuisance call. WELL DONE BT

We don’t want call blocking we want these companies stopped from making cold calls. So now we know who is calling, it does not stop the intrusion. Fine the companies for making the call in the first place.

From the Register:

“A Brighton-based robo-call spam operation has been hit by a record £350,000 fine by data privacy watchdogs. Since the firm has been closed down and entered liquidation, however, even the Information Commissioner admits the fine is unlikely to be paid.

Prodial Ltd, a lead generation firm responsible for more than 46 million automated nuisance calls, has been served the ICO’s largest ever fine for its flagrant anti-social behaviour.

More than 1,000 people complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about the automated calls, which played recorded messages relating to PPI claims.

Complainants said they were called repeatedly and without being given any means to put a stop to the nuisance because no opt-out option was offered. A doctor complained the constant spam calls were interfering with work as they had to answer them in case of a genuine emergency.

Brighton-based Prodial Ltd was operating out of a residential property and took steps to hide its identity, a factor that made it harder for people to report its nuisance calls, an aggravating factor in its offending.

The law is clear that companies can only make calls to people who have specifically consented to being contacted by automated marketing calls. An ICO investigation found Prodial revealed Prodial had secured no such consent.

The ICO’s investigation found that information from these calls was used to sell people’s personal details on to claims management companies. Records indicated the marketing campaign could have produced a turnover of nearly £1m. Despite the sums of money involved, the firm has been placed into voluntary liquidation by one of its directors.”

Thank you both.

46 million nuisance calls and 1000 complaints over an unspecified number of years. I hope that no-one regards the efforts of ICO as a success.

The company should have been traced and their phone service removed within a short period after the nuisance calls had started. That would have been something to celebrate.

I wonder if Prodial will emerge under another name and continue their harassment of the public.

Kay says:
25 March 2016

Of course they will. 🙁

What I find worrying about the story is that it shows how the directors of these companies can apparently get away scot free. I’ve long thought the law needs to change to make company directors culpable in instances like these.

What does “personally accountable” mean? A fine – paid for by the company? A custodial sentence (is it a criminal offence)? What is an effective penalty that will reduce the likelihood of a company – or individual – using cold calling techniques?

I joined the Telephone Preference Service, but recently have been receiving more and more cold calls. I tried to renew my application but I’m still on their register. Most annoying.

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Anne – I believe the TPS can only regulate members of the UK’s Direct Marketing Association and I think it is reasonably effective in this. The growth in cold calling is coming (a) from firms who are not members [and probably would not be accepted as members], and (b) from overseas. These are the major drawbacks of the government’s reliance on the TPS as its chosen mechanism for controlling cold calling. It is not adequate and lets through all the worst sort of calls.

It is a good idea for people to remove their names from the public version of the Electoral Register but remain on the official version used only for elections. By the way, there are no telephone numbers shown in the Electoral Register but those who buy the public version on a disc can easily cross-index it to the telephone directory which I believe is also available for purchase in data form. Unfortunately people who are ex-directory also suffer from cold calling because the people who do it have call-generation systems that just work through all the numbers until they get a hit.

Are we reaching a tipping point where the drawbacks of the internet are starting to exceed the good points?

I wonder how we landed up with a system whereby companies could make unsolicited calls unless individuals registered that they did not want these calls. No doubt it happened long before most people started receiving these calls every day. It is time to ban unsolicited calls unless individuals request to receive them. Obviously it will not stop the rogues but I think it would help in the battle.

Nuisance calls, junk emails and doorstep callers all go on a list of companies I avoid using because they are not to be trusted.

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Sandra says:
22 May 2016

I don’t get many nuisance calls anymore (I used to…) but I get several unwanted texts a day. I hate it.
Who can fix that one….if it’s not ppi it’s an ‘accident’ I’ve apparently had, or its loan companies or gambling…I am not a gambler!! How do they get my number??!!

In an ideal world it would be nice to have a second premium rate line where you could, by activating a switch, a voice would say’ This line is not monitered, would you please hold while you are transfered’ then, if they are still on the line, be transfered to the premium rate line where they would be charged up to £5 per minute….In an ideal world

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Last week we had an avarage of five calls every day, starting at 8.00a.m. Two calls on Thursday were from BT, and we haven’t been their customer for about five years. I’ve asked repeatedly to take us off their list, be they totally ignore our request. They’re as bad as the rest.m

26 calls a month I wish!!! We can get on average 8 to12 calls a day starting at 0900hrs and going on until 2040hrs being the latest to date. They range from national database to PPI always use our christian names and if you dare to ask them for a return number they just hang up.
Twice we have applied for call blocking but that doesn’t seem to be effective, so anything to make them stop would be welcome.

Val says:
22 May 2016

I get unwanted calls even after nine oclock in the evening, also on my mobile phone,one day a number phoned eight times in succession, I nearly launched the landline in the bin

thomas halstead says:
22 May 2016

You list unwanted call is to dial 1477so some one keeping check on them and use answer phone or buy phone that blocks nuisance calls

J Martin says:
28 May 2016

When you get the Windows scam, just tell them you are transferring them to the computer dept. Then say you will put them on hold. One of these scammers was still there after 25 minutes of music. Thats when I hung up.

Or just tell them you don’t have a computer.

I have a call blocker on my telephone but because we receive so many nuisance calls it is already full! TPS gives away your number as companies are supposed to check the list. I f you are ex directory why should you give your number? We have deliberately not put our name on the edited voters list either.

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The trueCall units and the BT 8500 and 8600 series Call Guardian handsets (with trueCall built in) issue a verbal challenge to callers. If they fail to complete the verbal challenge (or enter a secret PIN you have shared with them in advance), your phone doesn’t ring. There is no concept of “full up”.

Systems based solely on blocking lists of numbers will never keep up and cannot cope with the fact that many such numbers are simply faked or spoofed. I suspect there are many people who, upon having received scam phone calls purporting to be from their bank, have blocked the number without looking at it and thereby blocked the legitimate number used by their bank.

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