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back to article Psst, wanna block nuisance calls? BT'll do it... for a price

BT's latest phone, the BT6500, can prevent spammers from getting through to the harassed householder, forwarding them to an integrated answerphone - so BT still gets paid, of course. The householder will have to check those messages regularly though, as any caller withholding their Caller ID could end up there too, along with …

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Bronze badge

Re: the new bane of my life

But pressing 9 proves that a human answered the phone, so is much more valuable to them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the new bane of my life

The ones that claim to be a survey, I typically ask if there's any way in which the call can result in me spending money. If they say no, I ask for the company name. When the process inevitably ends up at a purchase opportunity, I point out they're in breach of a verbal contract, and ask to speak to the supervisor in pursuit of damages. They don't call back.

Allternatively, chat the person up really aggressively, They typically hang up fast, and occasionally you get lucky :-)

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Silver badge

Re: the new bane of my life

>is the message that says 'this is an important message about <blah> press 1 to call us back, or 9 to be removed from the database'

>How on earth can I stop these?

Partial solution on Android (I know this article is about landlines)- add the incoming number to your phonebook, eg "Zz Spam", then view contact, then edit, then check the box marked "send straight to voicemail"

Oh, this would be a nice feature on smartphones- having a voicemail feature built into machine - messages are recorded locally on the device (good for when you can't answer your phone in meetings, on silent, driving etc- obviously traditional voicemail is still required for the battery is flat or you have no signal).

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Holmes

Having a voicemail feature built into machine

"Oh, this would be a nice feature on smartphones- having a voicemail feature built into machine - messages are recorded locally on the device"

I had such a cell phone, around 1993. It was made by Alcatel (can't remember the model, I think it was something with '2000') and had the keypad and display on the back of the handset and not on the front where speaker and microphone sit. It did have integrated voicemail which could record I think 30s of message per call.

It was a very nice phone for that time.

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Anonymous Coward

short-lived

spammers will switch to spoofed UK numbers sooner than ryanair can introduce a new fee

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Anonymous Coward

Currently using an Android SMS/Call Blocker...

Supplied by my mobile network(SFR). Works pretty well.

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FAIL

Caller ID

I blame the BT monopoly for most of these problems. I call my brother in NL he knows who is calling. My brother calls me all I get is "International". I pay additional for caller id, he does not.

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Silver badge

Re: Caller ID

If you sign up for BT Privacy at Home and make some calls over the BT line, Caller ID is free.

Link

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Anonymous Coward

Monopoly?

What BT Monopoly? Most international calls don't touch BT's network. Ofcom removed pricing regulation from BT on international calls because only a tiny amount now use BT.

I can hook up with someone like Arbinet in London and choose from dozens of international providers, incoming and outgoing. I can then transit that call around the UK on any network I choose. It's been a long time since BT had a monopoly, or even handled the majority of calls.

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Mushroom

Re: Caller ID @Dan 55

I did that - it was free so I signed up for BT Privacy. Unfortunately in one quarter I only made three chargeable calls*, and the "free" threshold is something like four calls per quarter (IIRC). So the "free" feature *cost* me an £8 penalty charge for the quarter for the sake of an extra 10p call.

It was cancelled pretty promptly after and I moved my BT service elsewhere as a direct result; but even when I was cancelling the BT Privacy and explained it was due to the charge the CS service-droid still insisted it was "free" even though that was clearly bollocks!

*I have a mobile with more minutes than I can ever use on a stupidly cheap contract so I only use the landline when I need to call an 08xx that I don't have an 01/02/03 number equivalent for.

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Anonymous Coward

simple solution to nuisance calls - hurt their wallet

cancel your landline subscription and in the extreme, your mobile subscription - hit them in the wallet and it hurts if enough go "off grid"

buy a pay as you go card (andmaybe another mobile phone in cash) - NEVER use a CREDIT CARD to buy minutes - use cash

you'd be suprised how quiet life becomes - dont call me, I'll call you!

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Flame

Re: simple solution to nuisance calls - hurt their wallet

But in much of the UK the only way to have broadband is to comply with the ofcom sanctioned "BT profit margin protection scam" that requires you to pay for a full voice service rather than a data only service, so while i am forced to pay for the provision of voice I may as well use it... For many the problem would be solved by forcing BT to provide only what we want/need.

TPS registered, but whats needed is HUUUUUUGE fines for UK companies that use overseas telemarketers to spam our phones, with an assumption of liability for compliance on the part of the company that does the hiring. BT have no interest in stopping this completely as it generates a useful revenue for them and of course OFCOM is too busy staying Lubed up for big telco to bother trying to regulate effectively or in the interests of the individual citizen

On the subject of Dutch call centres claiming that they don't fall under the remit, being [art of the EU they should be aware of the Privacy in Communications Directive which addresses this exact area.

The fact is that with society being so morally bankrupt at the higher levels nothing decisive will be done because business owns the governments in terms of both donations to political parties and the promise of cushy jobs when the hurly-burly of politics becomes too much.

I reserve the right to be as offensive and abusive as I can on my phone.. especially when some scum sucking pond life wastes my time with spam calls.

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Happy

Re: simple solution to nuisance calls - hurt their wallet

Is that you jake?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simple solution to nuisance calls - hurt their wallet

You can have broadband from a mobile operator - that's available in much of the UK.

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Re: simple solution to nuisance calls - hurt their wallet

"On the subject of Dutch call centres claiming that they don't fall under the remit, being [art of the EU they should be aware of the Privacy in Communications Directive which addresses this exact area."

They are, but they won't tell you that.

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Bronze badge
Stop

So let me get this straight - this is basically similar to Android's "Blocked caller" function in the Phone app?

Interesting... although wouldn't it be good if they also offered this at the network level - a bit like the 1571 Voicemail service?

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WTF?

These are network services

BT already offer CLI (Call Display), anonymous/international call reject, and allowing up to 10 numbers to be rejected even though the number comes through as withheld (Choose to Refuse).

It looks like an excuse to flog expensive phones with nice buttons which speed dial the codes for these services on top of the monthly charges for these services.

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Mushroom

Re: These are network services

Anonymous call reject is useless in the face of so many spammers spoofing Uk numbers, maybe it is about time the network was inspecting the CLI and dropping calls from invalid UK codes. Such instances have to be a breach of BTs T&C for carrying calls and so they would not be in breach of any international carriage agreements by dropping calls that lie about their origin.

There is so much interest in "data inspection" these days - this would be one area where such prying would be welcome by most and extremely useful in controlling these parasites

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These are network services

The point is that the spoofed CLIs are valid. They are real UK telephone numbers.

Given that most international calls don't get anywhere near BT's network, how would BT be able to drop a call they never had? Even if BT are the last telco in the chain and deliver the call to your phone, how could they know the CLI isn't valid? Another UK operator passes them a call with a valid UK destination and a valid UK origination, the data doesn't exist to make any kind of decision to drop a call. I'm not sure TalkTalk would be very happy about BT deciding which calls it will or won't pass to TalkTalk customers.

There is no 'the network' any more. There are multiple international and national networks in the UK. Operators engineer direct connections between themselves to avoid paying the regulatory rates set by Ofcom for using the BT network.

To do what you suggest, we'd need to wind the clock back 25 years and give BT back a monopoly on international calls. And uninvent call origination from the Internet.

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Bronze badge

Re: These are network services

The point is that the spoofed CLIs are valid. They are real UK telephone numbers.

... but, the carrier must know the originator's true number, and so whether the number is being spoofed.

They should be able to block these calls, and to prosecute the real owner of the originating number (if UK-based).

What's so hard about that?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These are network services

The point is, actually dear troll, that the CLI isn't valid for the operator originating the call. If anyone in authority cared, a licence condition for a telco could include "thou shalt not originate a CLI which thou knowest to be fake, for the sin of doing so, the punishment shalt be the loss of thy telco licence".

Crawl back under your rock, troll.

TruCall is a ripoff. There is a raspberry pi based alternative for the geeks.

There are Gigaset phones which offer the same "ignore anonymous callers" facility as the BT ones. I've seen them in Sainsburys for under £30 the pair.

Have a lovely weekend. Unless you're providing service to these spammers. In which case, have a really bad acciddent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These are network services

"the carrier must know the originator's true number,"

Which carrier? It's likely to be a SIP operator in another continent. The caller might not even have a real number if the call originated from a SIP client. The call might pass through four, five or six operators before it gets to someone like BT. The telco who delivers the call will have zero relationship with the telco who originated the call - they won't even know which network did originate the call, they only know who is handing it to them.

You're presuming that the original operator is at all concerned by UK law or regulation - it's unlikely. You're also presuming that the offending call centre is 'owned' by a UK company. That too is unlikely - the UK company will be renting a small number of people or paying per call or per successful call to a call centre that works for dozens or more clients.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These are network services

"The point is, actually dear troll, that the CLI isn't valid for the operator originating the call. If anyone in authority cared, a licence condition for a telco could include "thou shalt not originate a CLI which thou knowest to be fake, for the sin of doing so, the punishment shalt be the loss of thy telco licence"."

I'm not trolling - what are you talking about?

British law isn't universal law. If someone in another country spoofs a genuine UK CLI into a call, how can the terminating operator know and what could British law enforcement do about it? If 'Spoofnet' in India allow a call with bad CLI to be generated in India, pass it to Reliance, who in turn pass it on to Wharf T&T in Hong Kong before it gets handed to an aggregator and turns up in the UK on an Arbinet exchange before entering Virgin's UK network, how would you expect Virgin to be able to do anything about that? They only know that Arbinet gave them the call. They'll probably be using Arbinet for UK and international tandem calls and so the appearance of a UK CLI in a call on that route is not suspicious.

As to your other point, telcos haven't been licensed since about 2000. Anyone can run a telecoms service now, you don't have to apply to Ofcom to be allowed.

I'd suggest it's not in India's interest to enforce CLI spoofing rules (if they have any) because the call centre business depends on it.

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Silver badge

Blocking caller ID

It ought to be illegal for any corporation/... to block caller ID. If any do so, or give a false number, they must get a large statutory fine. That will make it much easier to identify and nobble the scam artists while allowing legitimate business to continue ... not all business calls are unsolicited sales.

I will accept a few exceptions like child line & the VD clinic.

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Silver badge

Re: Blocking caller ID

So if you find a call from a withheld number on your home caller ID box then either someone's breaking the law or your partner has the clap.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Blocking caller ID

British law rarely applies in other countries. And presentation number can be a useful service - if someone legitimately calls you from a call centre, do you want to see an 0800 number you can call them back on or an outgoing only geographic number you can't call?

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Thumb Up

Get truecall. period.

I got one and the phone just does not ring any more unless it's a genuine person as they have to press a number to get through. You can have white lists as well so add all your friends / families onto it and they get through straight away, everyone else get a message and having to press a number which auto diallers and telemarketers just will not do.

Silence is golden :)

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Silver badge

Riddle me this...

I get a lot of junk calls on my home phone. Which is very odd, because I'm TPS registered, and I only give this to friends - I always use my work number when asked by any organisation, and I never, ever, ever get any junk calls at work.

How does my work block all junk - or are some numbers just excluded from the junkers?

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Bronze badge

Re: Riddle me this...

TPS will (should) only work with the companies that sign up to.

The idea is that a direct marketing company A joins the TPS so that it has access to the do-not-call lists and therefore avoids making wasted calls to people that are liable to get justifiably shirty if rung up in the middle of tea/Eastenders/bathtime and asked if they've considered installing solar panels.

If a company decides to maintain its own do-not-call lists, or can't afford to join the TPS, or is a just a couple of dodgy geezers trying to sell shares they don't own, then it won't work.

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Silver badge

International CLI and BT

I think we need a campaign to get BT to provide international CLI, even if all they send is an 00<country-code> if the rest really isn't available. It can't be any less accurate than a spoofed ID, and for those who get legitimate calls from one country and junk calls from another, it's a quick easy way to tell them apart and ignore the unwanted ones. Other telcos can manage it, so why not BT?

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Re: International CLI and BT

.... along with a facility to bar (free) unwanted calls from overseas. Im not expecting any... so barring non UK numbers isnt an issue for me. I purposely avoid companies that have overseas call centres.

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Silver badge

Re: International CLI and BT

BT certainly sends CLI internationally, so their system can handle it. I'm not sure why they find the need to hide the number if the call comes from abroad. Maybe El Reg could ask them.

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Silver badge

Re: International CLI and BT

From memory, the original reasons they gave were (1) they couldn't determine the reliability of the information provided and (2) they didn't trust all overseas telcos to reliably send the state of the withheld flag, so they might accidentally release CLI when someone had requested anonymity.

Even if they were valid at the time, I'm not sure that's true now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: International CLI and BT

Because the vast majority of the calls never touch BT's network - that's why.

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CLH
Happy

My way of dealing

As my calls are now over VoIP so i record them all.

When they say about the call may be recorded i interrupt them, and ask MAY BE recorded or IS being recorded.

9 times out of 10 they say IS being recorded. I then inform them that i am also recording the call. That way they have a copy and I have a copy of the fact that I DO NOT want them to call again, otherwise I will charge them for my time, and take further action under harassment and telecommunication laws.

Oddly enough, I've only had 2 return calls from any company I've done this with. One of which was a supervisor from Talk-Talk to clarify the situation. Never had a call from them since (and i used to get them at least 3 times a week!)

C

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By the time they've finished telling me that their name is Bob, in a heavy Indian accent, I'm already walking down the hall, ready to hold the phone up to the smoke alarm and press the test button. Then I can add the number to the call barring function in my phone, thanks for that feature, Panasonic. Of course, not being a BT customer means I get caller ID free.

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Anonymous Coward

Can't condone the sonic attack - at least not before they've been proven to be a scammer or just plain nasty on the phone.

Why they can't be open about their real forenames I don't know. It's not like the British aren't exposed to multi-cultural names (through the soaps etc), and the accents are often distinctly not British-Asian (my employer, of Ugandan Indian origin has told me he has trouble with their accents sometimes) so they aren't fooling anyone.

When retelling the phone conversations to my other, I generally refer to them as "Paul from Puna", "Bob from Bangalore", "Sarah from Sringar" etc.

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Thumb Up

Yet another avoidance method.

Just move countries. Preferably to one with a more conservative view on personal privacy.

I now get no junk calls, while some poor sap who inherited my old number back in the UK is getting them instead.

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ql
Bronze badge
Unhappy

Real damage

While we on ElReg may relish a technical scrap with these forms of pondscum, do remember that there are real problems they create, like elderly folk becoming too afraid to answer the phone, either because of a previous ripoff or fear of a potential ripoff. When you think about it, using a phone impiles trust in fellow humankind, and the predatory nature of these callers destroys that pretty effectively. This isn't "just business" any more, even for relatively legit operations. The consequences are too often just not good enough to excuse. As others have pointed out, it's possible for these callers, even non-UK ones, to be controlled better, so why isn't this happening? Hidden victims, perhaps?

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Gold badge
FAIL

I'm not sure what country you guys are in.

But I've found over the years a few handy things to do and not do.

Have an unlisted telephone number. Or change your current one to an unlisted one. This invalidates peoples existing databases. I'm not on any barring list.

Do not hand out your telephone number to all and sundry on business reply cards, website signups etc. Remember fake phone numbers are more difficult to check from logins on web sites, from the web site PoV, than emails. Mobile numbers seem to be more valuable than land line #s so be especially careful who you release yours to. Dealing with normal scumcompanies I'll deny I even have a mobile to call.

Remember these people are much more desperate to contact you than you are to hear from them.

Pretty much the only spam calls I get are from companies that I already deal with who think I want to extend my "relationship" (IE buy more s**t) with them than I already have.

I don't enter competitions or prize draws. So any BS about "This is an important message" -> hangup.

Ask yourself "If this is an important message from a company you deal with can they contact me another way (IE email, which is fast and does not need a user present to receive it) and if so why have they not done so?"

I go months without getting one of automated spammers and cannot remember the last one I had.

As far as I'm concerned most companies like most governments are

No need to ask. No "need" to know

And yes the biggest source of spam on my mobile is the network operator

Fail because this is BT. Home of Phorn, ignoring guidelines on premium rate phone numbers etc. WTF should you pay for a solution to a problem they cause.

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Having an unlisted number

is no help if the previous holder of that number was listed and had bad debt.

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Silver badge

Re: I'm not sure what country you guys are in.

I used to get sales calls from BT, which I generally treated with amusement because my home phone seems to be one of those that's avoided being in databases so it was a relative novelty.

It all came to a head the day they called me up and tried to flog me Home Highway (remember that). I politely observed that I already had it, and if their database was poor enough that they didn't actually know which services I already had, then perhaps they ought to put me on their Do Not Call list, and I never got another call from them.

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Gold badge

Re: Having an unlisted number

"is no help if the previous holder of that number was listed and had bad debt."

Interesting combination. You should be of no interest except to debt collection agencies.

In which case you should request another new phone #.

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Flame

How out of date are their lists ?

Me and MrsJP got married in 2007, yet not only are we STILL getting calls asking for her maiden name[1], but they are increasing. From loads of different numbers, although if they get as far as speaking, they all seem to be about PPI.

The weirdest thing is despite us both living here together for over 10 years, I don't get *any* calls. At all. Which implies that she somehow signed up for something which snaffled her details and they are now being repeatedly sold on, and on, and on.

Some get quite arsey when we (correctly) tell them there is no one of that name living here. We've had others try and verify the postcode too - who get told in no uncertain terms to sod off.

[1]When they hear my voice, they switch to "Is that Mr <maiden name>". Creeps.

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Re: How out of date are their lists ?

There's a simple answer to all of this, your wife is having an affair. Or two.

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Silver badge

Re: How out of date are their lists ?

lol reminds me of the calls my mum gets sometimes.

"Hello is that Mrs X? We have an urgent call for you"

"No this isn't Mrs X, it's Mrs Y"

"Ah Mrs Y, I need to talk to you about"

*click* as she hangs up.

I've taken to verbally abusing them. For ages we kept getting the microsoft tech support calls, mum and step dad kept getting the phone, they'd call again the next day. I get the phone, nothing for the next few months.

"Hello I'm calling on behalf of microsoft tech support, my name is steve. According to our scans you have a virus on your computer, and we will need access so that we can fix it"

"Ah hi 'Steve' Sorry but I don't run Windows, I only have Linux on my machines, so I think your records are wrong"

"No no, we need to access your machine to remove the virus" (now in a deep indian accent)

"Also from recollection, Microsoft will never contact you asking for access to your machine, or to enquire about your details. Which means you aren't Microsoft, you're just somebody getting paid sub minimum wage to call up and harass people with your bullshit. Nobody in this house is dumb enough to fall for your shitty american accent so stop wasting time for both of us, and remove this number from your registers."

At which point he tried once again to convince me he was steve from microsoft. In the end my final response was "Look, this is costing you more money than it's costing me, it's not going to work so get your head out of your ass and remove this number from your record."

Hung up. Haven't gotten a call from them since.

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Anonymous Coward

some ideas

I wouldn't mind the phone co keeping a list of numbers that I've received calls from before, and checking new calls against that whitelist, and then giving me a different ring pattern (one longer ring like the US) for new numbers. That would allow me to take my time getting to the phone, and prepare me for the possibility that it's a spam call.

Also, if you could dial some 147-something after a spam call to say "that last one was spam" , and if the phone co got a sufficient number of those, it would bar all further calls on their network from that originating line. Yes it would cost them a little in lost revenue, but what price Happy Customers?!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: some ideas

Firstly I guess because one person's spam is another person's useful sales call. And because telcos are obliged to pass on the calls they get. The spammers would just change CLIs to a valid UK number meaning that the real holder of that number can't make calls anymore, and you'd end up with an ever-increasing blacklist in a world where telephone numbers are kind of a scarce resource.

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Re: some ideas

Except ... happy or not, you ARE still a customer.

And they've gotten their revenue.

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