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UK ISP BT Soft Launches Free Service to Tackle Nuisance Calls

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 (9:37 am) - Score 989

Nobody likes receiving unwanted marketing calls, unless they’re exceptionally lonely. In keeping with that BT has today launched a new blacklist service, which aims to redirect related calls to a junk voicemail box and thus prevent them from irritating their customers.

The new “proactive intervention” service, which sadly won’t actually be made available to use until towards the end of 2016, aims to harness “huge computing power to analyse large amounts of live data” and “enable network experts at BT’s centre in Oswestry to identify rogue numbers … and add them to a BT blacklist.

Customers will also be able to identify troublesome numbers and get them added to the list (we assume BT will then check these to ensure that they are indeed being used for abuse). Customers will also be able to make their own personal blacklist, which will include the ability to nominate whole categories of calls to be blocked (e.g. international calls or withheld numbers).

BT will also work to notify industry regulators (e.g. Ofcom, ICO) when they spot numbers that appear to be particularly prone to abuse, which will help to raise public awareness of bad numbers / businesses and push for greater enforcement action.

John Petter, CEO of BT Consumer, said:

“Nuisance calls are one of the great annoyances of modern life. Everyone will have received one. We are delighted to have made this major breakthrough. We are giving control of the landline back to our customers and removing a major hassle and grief for millions of customers.

We have been at the forefront of equipping our customers to defend themselves against the flow of PPI and unwanted marketing calls that has become a flood in recent years.

Now we are able to announce that we are working to identify and tackle huge numbers of those calls in the network.

We are doing our bit. We call on other providers to up their game in the fight against this menace. They can help us to root out the malicious players they may be hosting on their own networks when we identify dodgy and suspicious calling behaviour.”

BT are also one of several telecoms providers to have signed Ofcom’s related Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Nuisance Calls, which commits them and others to develop new technical measures for “reducing the impact of unlawful nuisance calls on consumers“. The other participating providers include: TalkTalk, EE, Sky Broadband, Gamma Telecom, Virgin Media, Vodafone, Three UK, KCom Group Plc (KC) and O2.

Apparently further details about BT’s new service will be revealed in the future and in the meantime customers can register their interest at: www.bt.com/nuisancecalls .

Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Avatar dragoneast says:

    So, will BT blocking break the “number withheld” scam? For everything else there are community alternatives which already work amazingly well; although as we all know no-one ever lost money pandering to the lazy (or indulging the greedy, for that matter).

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      The last time we had cable, you could dial a short code and this disabled incoming “withheld” calls. Something like “150”. That must be 10+ years ago now.

    2. Avatar dragoneast says:

      I block all withheld numbers, good or bad. That’s easy. But what I had in mind is whether BT’s software will be able get behind a “number withheld” CLI message to the recipient, to identify and block the actual caller number, which could be really useful.

    3. Avatar Steve Jones says:


      I don’t think you are very well up to date with the complexities of modern phone systems and the vastly complex way in which they interconnect. Yes, BT (and other network operators) do have access to the originating line identity even if the CLI is withheld. It’s used by emergency services so that if somebody does make a call from a land line, the location can be identified.

      However, it’s pretty well irrelevant for anything coming by the multifarious gateway systems which come into the network, which, besides other UK operators and international operators, includes gateways from IP telephony. These interfaces (especially the IP gateways) are wide-open to CLI data being spoofed (or not provided). Once a call comes via an IP gateway it’s near impossible to determine if it’s a spoofed UK number or not. For any service provider to block incoming numbers, then they have to be very careful about the accuracy of what they do or otherwise they are wide open to legal action.

      nb. for anybody barring “number withheld”, it does not protect you from “spoofed” numbers – which is why they are so commonly used by fraudsters. Secondly, there are valid reasons why some organisations and individuals with hold numbers for privacy reasons. For instance, refuges don’t tend to want their numbers known. Also, even if a company does include a CLI, likely as not, if you call it, then it won’t get you anywhere. A bit like doing an email reply to spam.

    4. Avatar dragoneast says:

      Yes, I was aware of that Steve. In practice I’ve managed to eliminate nearly all unwanted calls by blocking all undisclosed numbers and judiciously blocking prefixes and/or usually the first three or four digits of the number (as spammers often use sequential blocks of numbers, spoofed or not. Their spoofing software isn’t very sophisticated is it? Neither, I suppose, are their victims). Every couple of months a new one keeps popping up and is promptly banned. My joint modem and domestic PABX box logs them if I want, blocked or not. So I see the new ones come in waves over 3 or 4 days and then disappear. It also allows my home phone to ring through the mobile, which has spammer identifying apps that offer some additional protection. So very few get through nowadays.

      So as always self-help can get you a lot of the way, as well as being conditioned to your needs rather than just the lowest common denominator.

      I don’t know what I’m missing with the undisclosed numbers, but I’ve always worked on the basis that any business or authority worth its salt know about blocking and should use a disclosed number. My former employer had this where the extension would not be disclosed, but what would appear on CLI would be their general enquiry number, where they could identify the caller against a call list. All decent modern business circuits have that sort of facility. If they can’t be bothered to use it then it’s their problem not mine.

  2. Avatar Captain.Cretin says:

    Both the Police and the NHS withhold their numbers when calling you….. why??

    Even though it is on my notes, I have missed numerous calls from my local Hospital because they wont enable CLI when calling me – and apparently the Police dont even have the OPTION to turn it back on.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      A CLI from the police, NHS or any other large body would probably, at best, only take you to some recorded message due to to the way call management tends to be centralised these days.

      Using call barring on CLI withheld is pretty useless at stopping nuisance calls anyway, as (especially those from overseas) will usually spoof a CLI. There’s also the very real issue that some people use CLI withheld on their own private lines for privacy reasons.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Cli spoofing should be a criminal offence they must be able to detect it in the network

    3. Avatar dragoneast says:

      Had this issue with hospitals a few times, so the Doctors rang me on their own mobiles until they got hold of me. Where there’s the will as they say.

  3. Avatar GNewton says:

    “blacklist service, which aims to redirect related calls to a junk voicemail box and thus prevent them from irritating their customers.”

    Can we put BT into this blacklist, too?

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      * Comments that break site rules, SPAM, TROLL or post via fake IP/anon proxy servers may be blocked *

  4. Avatar Rick Dawson says:

    So will this be an “opt-in” or “opt-out” ?

  5. Avatar GNewton says:

    I know some of these hopeless BT fans don’t like it, but it should be possible to include BT on this blacklist, too, upon request. This worst-rated company is no better than many others when it comes to unwanted sales calls. Just a few examples:


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