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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  1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Phone spammers in this part of the world now use fake caller ID. The phone displays a number, but it it isn't actually assigned to anyone, and you can't ring it back. Internet searches for those numbers reveal hundreds of complaints.

    I'm certainly not 'the younger generation", but if I don't recognise the number I have no problem ignoring the call. If it is important they'll leave a message and I can either pickup, or call back.

    1. Badvok

      Echos my thoughts exactly. I can't imagine where BT get the idea this phone will manage to block 80% of unwanted calls, for me it would struggle to block 1%.

      Fortunately my family and I have pretty much got to the stage where I'm thinking of putting the land-line phone to silent mode and turning off the answering machine anyway.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      So the real question is, why does BT allow calls to come through with Caller-ID information that it can't verify is correct?

      Caller-ID is a pretty standardised technology and even uses different signalling in different countries. Which suggests that, at some point, the digital/analog conversions the call undergoes pass on that Caller-ID in a text format that can be verified or - if unverifiable - removed. Appropriate punishments for foreign telcos that fail to pass on accurate CallerID would probably be to just remove CallerID from any calls from them to this country (and vice versa), which I imagine would stuff up any number of systems and cause complaints.

      This would then allow BT to keep a whitelist of who is providing reliable CallerID (and thus trace spammers) and who isn't (and thus remove the CallerID and let people block unknown numbers as per usual).

      But it's all a scam. They know EXACTLY who called who from what number if they even need to know (i.e. police investigations), and they know exactly who to bill or not (or they wouldn't be able to make money). They just don't care because even an unwanted sales call makes them money the second its answered.

      I think they're picking at straws hoping people will sign up for this service, when they could do something similar in a SECOND on their network. Hell, why do I have to pay extra to block no-caller-id phone calls at all? Or even to SEE caller-id on a landline? It's all just about making money.

      And because of the way that they just don't care, my landline isn't with BT (it's cable), and isn't used anyway and the second I get spam calls on it from ANYWHERE (I have an answering machine of my own, so I'd know about them even if I was out as it logs the calls), I'll be complaining or removing that service from my account.

      Landlines are dead, for me because of years of spam on my parent's line that I couldn't block, and I imagine a lot of other people have similarly abandoned them. Hell, on my mobile if I get spam, I put it into a spam contact which has a silent ringtone (and about 12 numbers on it at the moment) and I *NEVER* hear from them again. I can't even do that on my landline without fiddling.

      Give me a landline with a service where I dial a number, and it reads the list of previous phonecalls, and lets me BLOCK THEM PERMANENTLY with one press, and where fake Caller-ID *CAN'T* propogate through to my line, and then we'll talk about how much extra I might want to give you for that. Until then, forget it.

      1. The obvious

        The short answer is that if you have two telco's or operate from more than one office or a block of lines, as pretty much every legitimate company with more people than fingers does, it's not possible to do what you propose via caller-ID. There are other signalling mechanisms which can be used to identify the callers entry point into the network but few companies (particularly BT) want to hand over the data to let us go direct to their call provider.

      2. dynamight

        So please enlighten me as to how BT, or any telco for that matter, can verify the accuracy of a CLI that originates in another network.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Thumb Up


          I don't think they can (which your - I think - rhetorical question was alluding to)

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Validate CLI

          Well, strictly speaking CLI only refers to the info sent from your exchange to your phone, the network as a whole uses SS7 signalling, and that info is always available. Doesn't mean it's correct, of course. At best the most that a telco could do is verify that the information is correct for the network, i.e. if a call comes in from The Netherlands, but has SS7 data purporting to be from the UK, it could be dropped as fake.

          It's like email spam, some can be identified mechanically, a lot can only be guessed at heuristically, and the telcos seem to have no interest (i.e. they get no income) from putting effort into heuristics.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Validate CLI @Phil

            The problem being that multiple carriers will have had their mitts on that call.

            You only know who gave the call to you, not where they got it from. Reversing your example, if one UK operator receives a call from another UK operator, with signalling suggesting Netherlands origination, the call can't be dropped. It might have come from the Netherlands, it might not, but as the operator receiving the call I have no idea.

            It's not an impossible problem to solve but it would be an expensive and time-consuming one. The ITU would need to get all telcos and national bodies to agree to a new signalling authentication mechanism in a world where half the PSTN kit out there is obsolescent and the other half was made by people who've gone bust.

        3. P. Lee Silver badge

          Call routing information (where did your telco receive the call from) is the proper way to do it, (which I suspect could be provided with voip systems) due to the problems with CLI.

          But then, why would a telco want you to reject a call? That's just lost revenue.

          Until a disruptive player comes in, we're out of luck.

  2. Cannorn


    Is all but useless at the moment and running the phone system for a multinational PPI sales calls are the bane of my life at the moment and reflect a huge % of the voicemail storage capacity as the automated records call 1000's of our users dozens of times a day from withheld or otherwise disguised numbers that are impossible to even get enough info on to submit a Complaint to TPS with (not that they'll be UK based anyway)

    What we need is a phone that can detect these recorded messages, navigate to a human (why yes I'd LOVE PPI monies!) then transmit a frequency through the far handset that will melt the sales drones brains out their no.....oh...wait nvm...just seen the flaw in that plan....

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge


      A flaw?

      1. Number6

        Re: Ummm

        I suspect it was the reference to a brain...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: TPS

      AAISP did something similar (apart from the frequency)... click

      1. Parax
        Thumb Up

        Re: AAISP Honeypot

        I prefer this one

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: AAISP Honeypot

          In "Greetings! Carbon-based Bipeds!" (collected essays), Arthur C Clarke outlined his plan to hack his fax machine so as to cost the senders of spam faxes money: IIRC, it amounted to manipulating packets so the sending machine would keep trying to send spam in vain.

    3. Badvok

      Re: TPS

      Or maybe we need a regulator with the balls to enforce some rules on the use caller-id.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TrueCall

      “What we need is a phone that can detect these recorded messages, navigate to a human (why yes I'd LOVE PPI monies!) then transmit a frequency through the far handset that will melt the sales drones brains”

      In the interim, you could always try buying a TrueCall filter.

      I blame people who answer their own phones. Anyone who doesn't have a butler or valet to do that sort of thing for them is one of life's pathetic failures.

      1. LateNightLarry
        Paris Hilton

        Re: TrueCall

        I want one that will work with my cell phone lines...

        Paris, just because I need some eye candy...

  3. g e


    Just register your phone no's with the Telephone Preference Service (and your postal address with the Mail Preference Service, too, while you're at it)

    They've reduced junk via either method by over 99% for free.

    And how I deal with cold callers like this...

    "Hello I am calling because your phone number has been selected to receive a free mobile phone..."

    Don't you just love these people?

    Well I do. In fact in a perverse way I almost welcome their calls. The reason is fairly simple but first a little background on telesales and how it works.

    Company X wants to sell its latest nanowidget and so it hires some dodgy telemarketing firm to ring hapless people who are foolish enough to have telephones in the hope that they will buy some nanowidgets. The way (as I understand it) the money is made is the person making the call will be on commission so it's in their interest to either get a sale or turn a dead-end call around ASAP so they can get onto the next one which might turn out to be a sale. Usually a computer makes the call rather than the person then when the call is answered the computer routes the call to the next available operator which is why you sometimes get those silent calls when an operator isn't available or the computer misfired. When an item is sold the telemarketing company get s a cut out of which it pays the operator who made the sale, ther phone bill and pockets the rest as profit with the remainder being passed to company X as a sale.

    So it's all about a shotgun approach - call as many numbers as you can. Terminate dead-end calls as quickly as possible and plough through as many as you can because the percentages say you'll get a hit in every hundred calls or whatever. If they can't get those calls out of the way fast enough they're directly losing money (they still have to pay an operator something and pay the phone bill for the call and they will have given expected figures to company X for sales which they're under pressure to meet).

    Now, this is why I actually like getting telemarketing calls...

    Whenever someone calls to try and get me to buy something I say "Oh, hello, how are you" and they say some greeting stuff and begin their opening script. "Hold on a second," I say, "you really need to talk to my (brother/sister/wife/mother/grandfather/cat/milkman) about this as they always deal with this. Just hold on a moment, I'll get them for you".

    You're now at the most important point of the call - the point where you put the phone down (DO NOT hang up, just lay the handset down on the table with them waiting. From this point on you are losing the operator commission, losing the telemarketing company potential revenue and running up their phone bill.

    "How do I know when to hang up?" you may ask, and a very fair question it is, too. You know when to hang when phone makes this noise:


    If everyone treated telemarketing calls like this then pretty soon no-one would ever have to worry about receiving one as there'd be no telemarketing companies left.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatively

      That cuts down on a lot of calls and letters, but not all. I still get phone calls from other countries, including English operators claiming to be in the Netherlands, saying they're not subject to such rules and cannot remove me from their list.

      If you're going to pay someone for this kind of service from BT, my instinct is to avoid them and go to an independent company who can almost certainly be relied on more to get it right.

      Like the mighty Sony Corporation and Playstation customer personal details. Or Findus 'beef' burgers.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Alternatively

        The callers may be from other countries, but you can still go after the companies they're acting on behalf of, assuming those have a british presence.

    2. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Alternatively

      TPS doesn't work at all. All of my numbers are on there but I have now unplugged the house phone due to the number of calls. You may not think you get many, but try working from home throughout the day and you'll soon realise what a pain these calls can be.

      I can only assume that BT must have a department dedicated to sorting this because it will eventually lead to people not bothering with landline calling at all.

    3. frank ly Silver badge

      @ge Re: Alternatively

      Why not go all the way, tell them you're interested in buying a nanowidget and get them to send a salespup round to give a demonstration in the comfort of your own home? Imagine the fun you could have 'testing' the nanowidget and pointing out all the flaws it has.

      Then you offer perform consultancy services to improve the design of their nanowidget and ask for a working lunch with their managing director. You also send them an invoice for the 'initial consultation' with the salespup. The possibilities are endless.

      1. JeevesMkII

        Re: @ge Alternatively

        Generally they're not even sales calls, they're just straight up scams.

        We get calls, sometimes twice a day, from the "Microsoft support department" offering to fix problems with our computers. I always presume since they're willing to peddle one form of scam, then any sucker who actually pays them gets a trojan for their trouble.

        Having a land line these days is vastly more trouble than it's worth. If you're moving to a new place, just chuck that fixed line phone in the bin and if you must have a communal house phone, make it a prepaid mobile.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: @ge Alternatively

          Haha! I had the "MS support dept" on the phone for over 40 minutes going round and around in circles with various supervisors and so on, trying to work out where the "windows" key was on my mac.

          Eventually after much swearing at me (and attempts to get my daughter's names so they could make obscene remarks about them too) they hung up on me.

          I take the view that as long as they are talking to me, someone else isn't being scammed.

          It was a slow day... but a good day.

    4. I like noodles

      Re: Alternatively

      @g e

      If I have the time and inclination, I try to "sell" something back to them.

      e.g. "Hello, yes I'm the householder. It's snowy here, is there snow there too? Oh right, there is snow? Is it cold? Yes? It's not cold here at all, I'm using a new type of insulation. I can do you a quote for insulation, I supply and fit and I've an exclusive deal with the Norwegian distributor for the UK here. If you just give me the building address there I can send round a team of engineers to assess your requirements. Sorry? You can't talk to me about your insulation requirements? Ah, so you're not a budget-holder. Ok, put your manager on, I'll talk to them."

      etc etc.

      Suprirising how far you can take some of them before the final point of victory, which is of course getting them to hang up on you

    5. Pie

      Re: Alternatively

      There is another way of dealing like this especially for particularly irritating frequent callers.

      Say oh you need to ring back on another number and talk to 'Mr X' the number is 0871 xxxxxxxxx

      If you are a company with a phone system it isn't difficult to get a free 0871 number with you taking a share of the calls, then have that set to an answer phone for 'Mr X' and your frequent nuisance calls are reduced at no cost to your business (you could probably do this privately as well)

    6. Valeyard

      Re: Alternatively

      my mum has been getting calls from a manchester number and when she hung up they started ringing her from mobiles and actually threatening with sexual violence. She's had to get the police involved a few times.

      If you annoy these people even slightly don't think for one minute they're above taking it very personally, just a warning

  4. Tom 260

    Useless really

    Calls from behind NHS switchboards are given as 'withheld', and due to data protection, these callers often won't leave any useful information on answerphones.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Useless really

      BT also strip CLI off incoming SIP calls, showing them as international. Anticompetitive to the core. They'd rather harm competitors than help their customers. So no surprise this is such a blunt and useless tool.

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Useless really

        I believe the reason BT strip the CLI from SIP originated calls is because such SIP CLI is generally about as trustworthy as two dozen politicians holding expenses forms.

        I have yet to have such a stripped CLI call ring on my home phone which isn't exactly what I expect - namely yet another company ignoring TPS.

        BTW, personal favourite is "Microsoft" calling because my computer has reported a fault to them. These calls seem to go through phases, and me and several friends have a competition going to see how long we can string them along for. Unfortunately I'm not currently winning (I had to cut the call short at 35 minutes, I was on the way out the door at the time). So please *do* call back. Your call is important to me (I need to beat Dave's 50 minute epic!).

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: Useless really

          @Steve Evans: you may not receive legitimate VOIP calls, I do, my family get them a lot from me.

          When BT strip CLI they remove an important clue about each call, the chance of some scammer picking a faked number I recognise *and will answer* is close to zero. While legitimate calls can be recognised I can feel safer ignoring everything else, withheld or not. While legitimate calls are deliberately commingled with spam I can't simply ignore everything.

          Strangely VirginMedia and all the mobile networks seem to agree, it's just BT making life difficult for competitors.

      2. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Useless really

        @Paul Shirley

        They don't strip it off every SIP call; my calls from home go via a Gamma Telecom SIP trunk, and people I ring on BT lines do get my caller ID; I'm pretty sure they also get the ID when I ring via the backup SipGate account too.

        So it's not a blanket thing stripping at all.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Useless really

      >Calls from behind NHS switchboards are given as 'withheld', and due to data protection, these callers often won't leave any useful information on answerphones.

      It is my understanding that public services have to ring you back on a non-withheld number. My friend has paid BT a quid a month for years to block all unknown numbers to his landline. I asked him about doctors etc, and he said they were required to call him from an identifiable number.

      I answered an 'unknown number' the other Saturday evening on my mobile, turned out to be a mate requiring a lift home from a police station in the next city (after being released without charge)- his mobile had no credit since he had neglected to pick up his cash card when they arrested him from his house. He had tried his brother and his closer mates, but not one had picked up his call - no doubt expecting it to be a sales call.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shoddy builders

    They're like shoddy builders who come to lay your new patio, then three months later when you complain that all the paving has come loose, they say they'll fix it for an additional fee.

    Do someone a favour, wring Busby's neck.

    1. Busby

      Re: Shoddy builders

      What did I do?

  6. Andrew_b65

    TPS is wank

    The TPS is able to act only on unsolicited LIVE 1to1 calls. Pre-recorded messages are not covered by the scope of the TPS which is why it is completely crap and useless. Have you noticed how most of these unsolicited calls start with a recorded announcement with a list of options to speak to an operator?

    The TPS is perfectly fine with this activity. Their remit needs to be changed to encompass recorded messages.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest spam caller and texter on my my mobile (vodafone) is vodafone

  8. Graham 25

    Wouldn't it be simpler ?

    To just have BT and other UK carriers, block any calls coming from overseas which do not have full CLI attached so at least the recipient knows its a call from overseas and treat it accordingly.

    That way, the majority of calls from India for example, can be immediately spotted by the recipient and safely ignored. If the caller then buys a block of UK numbers to use, they pay out up front and then lose them if they spam thereby costing them a small fortune.

    My current bane is from the 0843 410 XXXX lot who are working each of those 9,999 CLI's to make automated calls.

    1. Colin Miller

      Re: Wouldn't it be simpler ?

      My caller display phone will indicate if a withheld number is UK and international withheld.

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't it be simpler ?

      "To just have BT and other UK carriers, block any calls coming from overseas which do not have full CLI attached so at least the recipient knows its a call from overseas and treat it accordingly."

      A much better idea would be for BT to block all calls from a number on the TPS list or from overseas and which are either silent and/or have the "withhold caller ID" flag set. The caller should be charged a premium for the privilege of being blocked. This would stop the nuisance calls and keep BT happy because it would be getting paid for doing the blocking. As others have said, this would work because BT always knows the actual caller - without that information it doesn't get paid for the call.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wouldn't it be simpler ?

        Erm, How would you know if a call is silent until it's been answered?

        BT doesn't know the caller unless the call originated on a BT line - all it knows otherwise is the operator who is passing them the call and the originator's number in the signalling information. Payment works on 'next in chain' in telecoms - whichever operator passes the call to me pays me, I keep a bit for my trouble and then pay the next operator in the chain.

        The rate paid is set by call type - so an operator might get 0.1p a minute for a UK geographic number call. There's no mechanism to charge extra depending on whether or not CLI is witheld and how would you bill it? They don't know the operator who generated the call, just the one who passed it to them.

    3. We're all in it together
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wouldn't it be simpler ?

      Most of BT's tech support is in India so they block their own staff. Mind you maybe that's a good thing....

  9. Dogsauce

    If you ever get a human speaking to you on one of these calls, I find the following phrase useful:

    "Hang on a minute, let me interupt. Let me say something. You know those people at school who said you'd never amount to anything? They were right, weren't they?"

    Spammers of all hues are life-theiving vermin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Whilst satisfying its also hazardous they have your phone number, insulting will only result on your number finding its way onto every database imaginable. just buy a trucall and forget about it.

    2. cinsekrap

      And when your son/daughter is at University and has a job to pay the bills, etc.. in a call centre - you'll agree, right?

      There's no need to be offensive to the workers themselves. This kind of behaviour spreads beyond the call centre call from abroad and suddenly it's acceptable to make personal insults to someone we've never met, who is - at least - working.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        "suddenly it's acceptable to make personal insults to someone we've never met"

        Ah, you've seen the contents of my inbox, then?


    3. Nuke

      @ Dogsauce

      Wrote :- "I find the following phrase useful: "Hang on a minute, let me interupt. Let me say something. .."

      Don't interrupt them. The longer their call goes on the more it costs them in time and money. Better to put the handset down without hanging up and return to it 5, 10 or 15 minutes later, whenever they have given up.

      Alternatively, if you want some fun, let them finish their spiel, and then in a heavy accent say "My Eeenleesh not good. Please say all again, ve-ery slow pleeez ..."

      Or wait until they have finished and say "We are very interested, but you need to speak to a Mr Jones here - please wait while I fetch him to the phone". Then leave it.

  10. YP

    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? I really don't believe pressing 9 does anything other than let them know I picked up.

    And while I'm at it, it's the people who say 'this is not a sales call, we are conducting a short survey....'. At least I have fun with the 'I am John from Windows Support, you have problem with your computer we can help' Not had them fora log time unfortunately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the new bane of my life

      Think they can probably detect that you picked up whether or not you pressed 9.

      In reality I suspect that this automated response is just a method of allowing them to do automated dialing and not have "silent calls" when more people pick up than they have people to answer.

      1. handle

        Re: the new bane of my life

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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 :-)

    3. Dave 126 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).

      1. Davidoff

        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.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


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

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Currently using an Android SMS/Call Blocker...

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

  13. billium

    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.

    1. Dan 55 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.


      1. paulf Silver badge

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      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.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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!

    1. Da Weezil

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        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.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: simple solution to nuisance calls - hurt their wallet

      Is that you jake?

  15. Test Man

    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?

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge

    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.

    1. Da Weezil

      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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. dajames Silver 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?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

  17. alain williams 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.

    1. Number6

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    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 :)

  19. EddieD

    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?

    1. graeme leggett

      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.

  20. Number6

    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?

    1. Da Weezil

      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.

    2. Dan 55 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.

      1. Number6

        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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: International CLI and BT

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

  21. CLH

    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!)


  22. thesykes

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  23. Silverburn
    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.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    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?

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward 15

      Having an unlisted number

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

      1. John Smith 19 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 #.

    2. Number6

      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.

  26. JimmyPage Silver badge

    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.

    1. Jamie Kitson

      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.

      1. wowfood

        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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    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?!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    3. Doctor Evil

      Re: some ideas

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

      And they've gotten their revenue.

  28. Michael Hutchinson
    Thumb Down

    Some oversights in this approach

    If these automated calls go to an answering machine, that means that the scammer will know it's a real number with a valid recipient. Equivalent to replying to a spam email and confirming to the spammer that the email address has a valid recipient.

    1. Number6

      Re: Some oversights in this approach

      Provided they give a consistent caller ID they'll consistently get the answerphone. Or I'll add them to the blocked list and they'll get the Asterisk "Weasels" message and a dropped call instead.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. BryanM

    Blame the Government

    It's all the Governments fault for forcing the banks to offer PPI refunds, and that stupid grant for cavity wall insullation. I've never taken out PPI with loans, and I don't want cavity wall insullation. There's aother piece of nonsense just been announced by the latest shambolic idiots in charge of the country and straight away you realise that it's just another excuse for the spammers to try and call you endlessly.

    Write to your MP and tell them to stop interfering. Any party will do, they're all shambolic idiots unfit to govern.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Blame the Government

      PPI lot phoned the other day. Told me that 90% of people with credit cards were mis-sold PPI. I told them that means that 1 in 10 calls they make are to people who don't have a PPI case - and I'm that one. Still took a bit more time to shake them off.

  30. Jamie Kitson

    What's the point...

    if you have to listen to the answer phone messages anyway?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Premium rate numbers

    What they (telcos) should do is make it easier for end users (subscribers) to have premium rate numbers (not easy at the moment - i checked). I could then give this number out to all and sundry (and use it for all website that 'require' a phone number, etc) - safe in the knowledge that I would be earning money for every spam call - it would also block most cold calls as most normal companies have automatic blocks on outgoing premium rate numbers, so they wouldn't be able to call me. I would have a normal number too of course - for friends/family etc - this could be whitelist only, with a message to non-whitelisted IDs to call me back on the premium rate number.

    It is similar to having 2 (or 3) e-mail addresses, one for friends, and one dos one used to register with websites, etc - except that you would earn money if people used the second one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Premium rate numbers

      Can you set the rate? If so, you just have to set it as high as the phone company's billing computer will go...and then you only have to get one call before you never need a phone again, ever.

  32. Nigel Whitfield.

    TPS are useless. So are Verizon UK

    I used to have an ISDN2 line, with a block of ten numbers; I ported those all to VoIP a few years back. But having ten sequential numbers, it's very obvious when a robo-dialler is attacking me. Call comes in on the business line first, silent. A short time later, on the ex directory line, silent, and then usually by the time it rings on the 'public' number there's someone there (and doubtless, the unused numbers in the gaps have been pestered too).

    All the numbers that ring are TPS registered; the vermin don't care, and lie when you ask them for their company name or address.

    A huge number (by which I mean almost all) of the UK caller IDs that are presented to my VoIP system turn out to have been allocated to Verizon UK. So as far as I'm concerned, they're facilitating law breakers, and are just as guilty. Perhaps if the phone companies themselves were fined, they'd make sure their customers behaved.

    Meanwhile, since everything is routed through 3CX, I have varying degrees of filtering. All incoming numbers are checked against a list of the common cold calling numbers, which are routed directly to a message reminding them they're calling a TPS registered line and breaking the law.

    Anonymous or unknown numbers go directly to voicemail.

    On the public number, an automated response tells people what number to press to speak to me, and warns them I'm not interested in sales and surveys, and will be very rude to them if they do press it.

    On the ex directory number, numbers for the more bewildered members of the family are whitelisted, while everyone else has to answer a maths question; press the right numbers and the call is connected.

    It works pretty well; but the fact that anyone has to go to these lengths to avoid harassment - seven cold calls in 10 minutes one day - shows just how feeble the TPS is; hardly surprising considering it's an offshoot of the Direct Marketing Association.

    Mandatory caller ID plus fines for both companies and the telcos that enable them, and in extremis the death penalty and confiscation of assets might finally stop these people.

  33. Arctic fox

    The situation where I live (up the arse end of Arctic Nowhere) is rather different.

    Up here you only have to register your objection to cold calling and all the telesales etc companies get three months to comply. Thereafter the local telecom watchdog can (depending on the seriousness and scale of the breaches) do everything from fining them to shutting them down. Not saying the system is perfect but it has been several years since we have been bothered by those kinds of nuisance calls.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My favorite

    For all PPI callers, I say, since you already know my life hsitory AND how much I am owed, why dont you just deduct your comission and send me the rest of the money!

  35. xyz

    I'm registered with TPS and it is shite but...

    The nuisance calls I get are all from BT wanting to flog me their Infinity. The other week they phoned me a 9 o'clock at night to try and flog the thing. You know what the moron at the other end said when I mentioned this... "it's only 5 to 9." KABOOM! I don't think they'll call back again.

  36. wowfood


    The Telephone Preference Service is supposed to take care of this - register one's number and UK companies promise not to call one up at all hours selling stuff - but these days the majority of such calls originate outside the UK and thus outside the jurisdiction of the TPS or Ofcom, making it all but impossible to control.

    That and even companies in the UK are getting around this by disguising their sales calls as surveys, which are still allowed. I've had plenty of calls from Eon energy

    "Hi I'm calling to conduct a survey for eon energy"

    "Yeah we're registered with the TPS, so please remove me from your registers"

    "Ah but this is a survey not a sales call"

    "Yeah, and after the survey you'll start telling me how much cheaper you are, cut the bullshit and remove me from your registers."

    Not to mention the number of companies offering cheap / free solar panels / insulation etc who use the disguise of

    "Oh this isn't a sales call, we're just gauging interest and letting you know that the offer is out there, if you are interested we can call you back some other time to talk in more detail."

    If I get to the phone first I tend to threaten them followed by verbally abusing them because frankly they piss me off. Sadly my mother tends to get the phone first and doesn't bother with the threats, so we keep getting the calls every few days until I manage to get there first.

  37. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    DO NOT CALL lists Do Work - especially with a large FINE!

    Canada and the USA has been plagued with these nuisance calls for years,

    Now both countries have DO NOT CALL lists in operation which MUST, by law, be honoured. Those foolhardy enough to ignore the Lists can be fined and/or have their telephone service ordered withdrawn.

    These are called SIT (Special Information Tones) signal: Vacant Circuit (out of service or non-existent phone number). The can be sampled at: < >.

    I made one using a pair of dual 555 ic's and it plays twice when I go off-hook (pick up the handset), then the handset is connected to the line.

    It is very easy to make (for techies) see: < >

    Name Description:

    NC1 - No circuit found

    First Tone Frequency - Duration

    (Hz) (ms)

    985.2 380

    Second Tone Frequency - Duration

    (Hz) (ms)

    1428.5 380

    Third Tone Frequency - Duration

    (Hz) (ms)

    1776.7 380

    Since most of these machines are of US manufacture, they often drop the calls (and record the fact the number is "out of service"!

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: DO NOT CALL lists Do Work - especially with a large FINE!

      No they don't. I put both my cell phones onto the do not call list. I still get lots of sales calls on them. Indeed, I just got a call from 720-315-7898 (hey, spammers, call them!) trying to sell me some kind of insurance. Yes, they know that the phone is on the DNC list. No, they don't care.

      Your little trick is highly unlikely to work with a cell phone.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: DO NOT CALL lists Do Work - especially with a large FINE!


    3. Robin Bradshaw
      Thumb Up

      Re: DO NOT CALL lists Do Work - especially with a large FINE!

      I am intrigued by this idea, i checked the BT specs for there special information tones and it appears the UK only has one (950Hz,1400Hz,1800Hz all ±50Hz) you can find the specs here: about half way down page 4.

      The tolerance in the frequency of ±50Hz means the US tones are within the specs for the UK tones too.

      I want to test this so I have just made an outrageous £10 purchase of a USB 56k modem to hook up to my raspberry pi, I had an idea i could script it to watch for it to report a ring then wait for the ringing to stop force it off hook then either play an audio file or i think AT+VTS=[985,,38],[1428,,38],[1776,,38] will do it if its supported then force it back on hook. With a possible upgrade to asterisk and a suitable hell menu if i ever feel like paying for caller id.

      Anyone got any better ideas?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DO NOT CALL lists Do Work - especially with a large FINE!

        There's already a Truecall-like setup for Linux which is known to work on Pies. May be helpful for what you're up to as well. Details can be found on the Raspberry Pi main forum.

        No need to pay for caller ID with either of the two UK main providers.

        For BT, sign up for BT Privacy at Home.

        For Virgin, call customer service, you want caller ID for free like BT offer, and escalate to retentions if refused first time.

    4. Doctor Evil

      Re: DO NOT CALL lists Do Work - especially with a large FINE!

      Ah ha ha, I see you missed the headlines in Canada last year when it came out that overseas spammers were actually scooping the entire DNC database and using that as their call list -- because the contents are pretty much all guaranteed to be live numbers. And there's not a thing the CRTC could then or can now do about that; they're rather toothless outside of Canada.

      We are still plagued by these nuisance calls in Canada -- but you're much better off NOT registering your number on the national DNC list.

  38. Andy Fletcher

    Silence is golden

    Tried Spam Block on my Android mobile and set it up with such aggressive settings I got no calls at all. The wife wasn't impresssed, nor the office. For me...nirvana.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hospices withhold their numbers

    I've had a friend in a hospice intermittently the last few weeks.

    The hospice's outgoing calls are number withheld, so for the last few weeks I've been reluctantly answering calls which normally I'd ignore.

    Can you imagine how it feels when some spammer calls me?

    I don't have to imagine.

    I can imagine the hell into which I would send the people who run these companies, and the companies who knowingly profit (as intermediaries) from them.

  40. billium

    AC dribble

    Does any genuine person know what the few ACs mean by most calls don't touch the BT network? Is it something to do with BT wholesale not being BT or something?

    Have a good weekend all.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Re: AC dribble

      No, the point is that BT are one of hundreds of licensed operators nowadays, most of whom are in the international call business and many of whom are focused on business users.

      Most businesses who make a lot of calls find that other operators are a lot cheaper than BT. That applies both to UK callers and to international callers. So, most of these calls originate outside the BT network. If you don't have a BT line the call won't touch the BT network at all. Even if you do have a BT line, the regulations require BT to accept the call and to believe what the other licensed operator tells it. BT can only impose its own rules when the call originates on BT or when they are the international carrier. Both are unlikely to be the case for these sorts of spammers.

      That said, I think actual forgery of UK CLIs is quite rare in the UK. It is illegal and it is much, much easier to (legally) withhold CLI or provide a presentation number (a different number but which is required to be dialable, not premium rate, and get back to the calling company). Most spam I receive with UK numbers is using 08-series numbers, which will be legally compliant presentation numbers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AC dribble

      No - it's not to do with BT / BT Wholesale.

      Other companies aside from BT own what in the olden days would have been called 'international exchanges'. Arbinet and Tata are probably the best known but are not the only ones. UK telcos can sign up with those companies, or if they're big enough they have their own switches and routes. Telcos who aren't BT avoid using BT because they're - relatively - expensive. International traffic using BT's network is therefore in the minority.

      An international call to a TalkTalk customer in the UK from an SFR customer in France will have used alternate routes. Companies with spare international capacity on leased lines will hook them up to Arbinet or whoever and sell minutes to the other users of that exchange, often using an auction-like process. Someone in SFR will have the job of choosing which option to take for their calls to the UK and they might make that choice weekly or daily or even in real-time using trading algorithms.

      An inbound international call might then enter the BT network at the last possible point, at which point all the BT switch knows is that the call is being handed to it from another UK operator. It doesn't know where it came from or who the origination operator was, it only knows dialled number, originating number and what operator is on the end of that interconnect. If the customer is on Virgin or C&W or any of the other operators with their own switches and local network (very common amongst businesses with ISDN or SIP trunks) then the call won't hit BT's switched network at all. An ISDN-30 or SIP trunk from Colt might use a BT Openreach last mile, but it never connects to a BT telephone switch. It arrives in the UK at the Arbinet exchange, might get carried up to Manchester on Nine's wholesale network, then gets handed over to C&W who then deliver the call to their customer.

      The PSTN isn't like the Internet in terms of having an originating IP address or a device MAC address - all an exchange sees is originating CLI and the destination number, and who is on the end of any given interconnect. If I take a call from Spectrum Telecom and it has 01234-567890 as the destination and 01273-222222 as the origination, that's all I know. I don't know if it originated on Spectrum's network or not, what country it really came from, how many operators it's been through - none of that. I have those three pieces of data and nothing else.

      1. Graham Cobb

        Re: AC dribble

        I realise you were trying to simplify, for the purpose of this discussion, but actually BT gets two separate pieces of information about the originator when the call is handed over from another UK operator: the calling party number and the CLI are separate (and may be different, for several legitimate reasons). All BT is permitted to tell the user is the CLI. It can't change that (there used to be an exception that if it didn't trust that the originator was following the CLI rules it could replace the CLI with UNAVAILABLE, but that was all, and I am not sure if that still exists).

        Even if BT was allowed to use it, the calling party number may not be useful to the called party. It might not be a valid, callable, number -- it might not even be a sequence of digits. It's main use is for reconciliation in case of inter-carrier billing queries or fault handling.

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Nathan 13

    100% sucessful solution

    Just screen all calls, family/friends/genuine callers will speak after the tone, all sales calls will hang up before the greeting is finished.

    Although sometimes I like to pick up the phone and have some fun :)

  43. ted frater

    I pick up the ringing phone, if its a live caller and a sales droid, i start to bark!!.

    then in a high pitched voice tell my doggie to stop picking up the phone and answering it.

    More barking! then in the high pitchedvoice I have a long conversation with my dog with him answering as tho he understands.

    great fun.

  44. pacmantoo

    the simple solution

    my simple solution: sorry if already discussed: unless you know the caller (needs caller display on the line & a handset with a display) just leave it to the answer phone. The diallers recognise it's an answerphone &just call off. TPS helps but doesn't stop the cheats working their way through the phone book or international calls. Our other trick: the BT phone book entry is in the wife's name - different my surname - so when they ask for Mr X I honestly say 'No one here with that name' That shuts them up!

  45. RonWheeler

    Double nightmare here

    The wife is German and gets a lot of landline calls from there. We would have bought a programmable call blocker-device ages ago to use on our Virgin line, but can't risk blocking international calls. And we're getting about 5 of these cals a day now even though on TPS.

    I don't buy the whole 'at least they're working' argument. They're unsolicited call making scum, just as bad as the IT-sales cold-calling scum who phone me at work.

  46. graeme leggett

    Another way to spot the foreign call centre

    They can't pronounce my name correctly. "gruh-ay-me" and "ledge-it" are probably the commonest variations.

  47. Spiny_Norman

    Easy solution. Use TPS - it's free and will stop the 'legit' telesales dross. Second layer of defence is *all* incoming calls go to an answerphone (unless we are expecting a call within a few minutes). It's surprising how many calls terminate as soon as the message cuts it. Legitimate calls either quote the password (Hello it's me...) or leave a message and once I've heard "Hi it's x from whatever" as if by magic we answer the call. It's worked really well for us for over 20 years.

  48. Ray Merrall

    Nuisance Phone Calls

    As I understand it,the BT phones will block certain calls, international, no access to phone number etc. and up to 10 pest call numbers.

    Sorry, doesn't make the grade even at half the price of Truecall.

    Ok, I am biased to Truecall, but then I have had one one working for over a year and I have the data results to prove it already works one heck of a lot better than BT's guilt attempt.

    When first fitted the Truecall unit was blocking over 10 nuisance calls per day, it is now down to around 2 per day. (Don't tell me that the spammers don't keep live lists of active numbers to annoy.)

    The unit now has nearly 100 supposed UK phone numbers blocked with over 30 with access, Just checked up to 1000 numbers can be kept. You can check on the phone numbers, just in case, every week or so, check on unknown numbers easily to confirm spam or not, (Zap or Star for future calls) take voice mail, record calls in and out (so long as it is for your own use (as in your evidence in a legal dispute) you do not have to inform the other end), and lastly, block all calls at night unless the caller has a code or is recognised.

    And as to £69 for a second phone, Truecall has all the line phones in the house covered included in the price.

    As for mobile phones, there are a number of call blockers with similar to Truecall tools available for android (can't say about IOS, but suspect similar) which work brilliantly, while Skype, (yep, have had a couple of spammers calling) can block calls as well.

    Now why doesn't BT and the politicians do something about this problem? Heaven forfend that money should be involved. But, I suspect that whoever owns the lines gets paid for what goes though them some how and with the number of junk calls going through the lines, some one is making a lot of money out of allowing their own customers to get very annoyed.

    PS: Recently, had to take the unit off line to be able to allow a lot of calls through for family reasons, and I have had fun with the spammers by telling them were calling a crime scene and I wanted their names, company names and addresses to allow a police officer to visit and confirm their innocence or otherwise in calling. Most just quietly put the phone down while a couple gave all, plus some that I couldn't resist asking for, information requested. Er! I may have implied that I was a Police officer, but I didn't say I was, in case anyone is worried and since they were already breaking the "law" by calling a TPS number, I felt no guilt in returning the favour of their call.

  49. David Hickson (Silent Calls Victim)

    Comment from the fair telecoms campaign

    See comment from the fair telecoms campaign.

    New BT Phone - not the answer to nuisance calls -

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