A new service which could eradicate nuisance calls for millions of householders has been launched today by BT’s consumer division.
Call Protect service uses data from BT’s centre in Oswestry and information from third parties to identify rogue numbers and add them to a blacklist, diverting any calls from them to a dedicated ‘junk mail’ voicemail service.
Customers who opt-in to the free service can block additional numbers either on their handset or through an online control panel contained within their My BT account page. Users can even block further calls where a number is withheld as BT is able to determine the number at network level.
Unlike solutions currently on the market, Call Protect works with any phone meaning every BT landline customer can opt in without buying new equipment. The firm says it has no intention of introducing charges for the service in the future.
Numbers which are blocked by large numbers of customers can also be added to BT’s blacklist, although it stresses staff will manually check and validate each number to ensure legitimate numbers such as credit control departments aren’t wrongly blocked.
In addition, customers can block entire categories including international calls to protect themselves from the most common groups of nuisance and hoax calls.
BT says it will report companies breaking industry rules governing outbound calls to the relevant authorities.
The service uses a network feature deployed by BT’s Openreach division which is available for other communications providers to use on a wholesale basis, however the front end has been developed in-house by BT Consumer meaning rivals would need to develop their own control panels and customer-facing technology before they could deploy a similar service.
BT confirmed to SEENIT that work is currently underway to determine whether a similar service could be deployed on mobile networks to protect its EE and BT Mobile customers from unwanted calls.
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: “We’re declaring war on the companies that regularly pester our customers with nuisance calls on subjects such as PPI and personal accident claims.
“We’re giving our customers the means to fight back against the millions of unwanted calls for free.
“With our unique technology, we can identify and tackle huge numbers of those calls in the network and also give our customers control over the calls they receive.”
Call Protect has been endorsed by Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, who said: “Nuisance callers are a terrible blight on society and Government and industry are working together to crack down on them.
“We’ve forced companies to display their numbers when they call you, made it easier to prosecute those involved in making the calls, and increased the maximum fines up to £500,000.
“We welcome BT’s new service, which offers customers an additional level of protection, helping them to fight back against this ongoing harassment.”