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BT Tweaks UK Phone Call Clearing Procedure Again to Stop Fraudsters

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 (3:14 pm) - Score 1,630
uk internet scam

BT has once again tweaked their national telecoms network in order to significantly reduce the time that a phone call connection can be held open (active) after the called party puts their handset down (i.e. such as when you end a voice call), which could make life more difficult for fraudsters.

Related scams work because most people will be unaware that the phone line stays open for a period unless both callers replace their respective handsets (the initiating caller in particular). For example, if you call a friend but only they put their handset down then if they pick it up again later you can still hear them.

Obviously this can be exploited by fraudsters who trick consumers into contacting their bank or another service. A wise consumer, after receiving a potentially suspicious call, will typically replace the handset before getting the legitimate number for their bank and then make the call and all without realising that the fraudster is still on the line (they act as a fake support agent).

Until recently BT’s network would wait between 2 and 3 minutes before initiating call clearing to stop the above from happening, although last year this was reduced to 10 secondswith an option to reduce it further in the near future if required” (here)

Unfortunately fraudsters have still been using this trick and so the BBC reports that BT has now cut the time to just 2 seconds. Other providers have also made similar tweaks.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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5 Responses
  1. AndrewH

    In most cases there would be no dial tone.
    Why do people not notice this?
    In any case why does there have to be a delay?
    Can’t the line be cleared immediately?

    • Tom

      Nothing stops the fraudster playing a dialtone down the line at the point where the victim hangs up and gets ready to pick up the phone to call their bank.

    • dragon

      Possibly using DECT phones that let you dial before seizing the line?

      Although with the ones I’ve had you do still hear dialtone briefly as it picks up the line and then rapidly sends the DTMF tones to dial, but I wonder how many people realistically pay attention to that.

  2. sentup.custard

    “A wise consumer, after receiving a potentially suspicious call, will typically replace the handset before getting the legitimate number for their bank and then make the call”
    Better still, assuming you have both a landline phone and a mobile, don’t call back from the phone they rang, use the other one!

  3. Philip Hamilton

    Long call clearing times have existed since the 1960s when taxi companies were able to block competitive taxi companies from receiving calls.
    It is as a result of BT’s reluctance to reduce the clearing times that many of us have been defrauded, including myself of £15,000.
    Is anyone interested in starting a Class Action?

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