Nuisance calls Overview


Nuisance calls

BT Public Affairs briefing note

February 2015


BT takes the issue of nuisance calls very seriously and constantly looks for ways to help customers manage their calls. We are also working with regulators, industry and consumer groups to tackle this issue.

Nuisance calls include unwanted sales, other ‘cold’ marketing calls and silent calls, which may result from the use of call-centre autodialling equipment. Many are made from international and withheld numbers.

Many organisations do not adhere to the various regulations (from the Information Commissioners Office,

Ofcom and Phonepay Plus) around marketing by phone, and also call customers who have signed up to the

Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which registers customers who have opted out of sales and marketing calls.

Focus needs to be on companies that deliberately flout the current rules, eg, companies that deliberately

 mask their identities by not displaying a valid caller line identity (CLI).

We agree with the DCMS Nuisance Calls Action Plan , March 2014, that enforcement and raising customer awareness are key to reducing these calls. Regulation already exists: Ofcom’s Persistent Misuse Policy in the main works for those companies choosing to comply with it. However, many do not so additional regulation is unlikely to make any difference as companies breaking the rules today are unlikely to comply with new tighter rules either.

Services and products for customers

Customers with BT lines can now see the CLI from calls from abroad, if displayed, along with the word international. This helps customers identify international numbers they know as opposed to those they don’t and may be an unwanted call.

BT provides information to customers experiencing nuisance calls via our Nuisance Calls Bureau and

Nuisance Calls Advice Line (NCAL, 0800 661 441) and our unwanted calls website . During the last year BT has updated its website and search criteria making it easier for customers to search for information and published articles around handling nuisance calls and to be aware of scams that prey on vulnerable customers, such as Think Jessica.

To help raise customer awareness links to the Ofcom nuisance-call guides and

Which ’s ‘Calling time on nuisance calls’ portal. Our NCAL team will also offer to report nuisance call complaints for vulnerable customers (those without internet access).

BT has introduced another new call-blocking phone , the BT8500 Advanced Call Blocker. This is BT’s most advanced call-blocking phone to date, stopping up to 100% of nuisance calls. This phone is available from

BT and a number of major online and high street retailers. ‘Big button’ versions of our call-blocking phones have also been launched.

We are continuing to develop customers’ call-blocking capabilities and aim to introduce new services in the future.

BT Privacy with free Caller Display for 12 months, a free service to all customers with a 12-month line rental contract that offers registration with the Telephone Preference Service plus free Caller Display, so customers can see the number calling them and decide whether or not to pick up.

As alternatives to our nuisance-call blocking phones customers can sign up to: o Choose to Refuse : this allows customers to block calls from up to 10 numbers they choose and costs £4.15 a month

o Anonymous Call Rejection : gives customers the power to block incoming calls where the number is identified in the network as “withheld” and costs £5.05 a month. o We also offer free renumbers, remove people from The Phone Book , BT1571 and answering machines to help screen or block calls

Wider actions to stop nuisance calls

BT is playing a leading part in an industry group that includes regulatory bodies, such as the Information

Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom, and consumer organisations, in an effort to bring a stop to unwanted marketing and sales calls.

We are continually working with regulatory bodies and industry to highlight the need to trace those organisations that inappropriately withhold or use invalid CLIs and the need for appropriate enforcement action to be taken.

We wanted to see industry cooperation and consensus to implement a nuisance-call tracing process and have been instrumental in a new call-tracing standard. The ICO is now using this process.

We want to see wider cooperation from all regulators, UK and overseas, to deal with cross-border issues.

BT will continue lobbying Ofcom, which has now joined forces with the Canadian regulators and other countries to tackle nuisance and specifically the issue of spoofed numbers. There appear to be better cross border regulatory relationships forming.

BT set up the Nuisance Call Industry Forum. This not only increased awareness amongst CPs but it enables industry to look at how we can pool operational learning and best practice and ways we can raise customer awareness.

Ofcom is reviewing the current Persistent Misuse Policy. We hosted a visit that will provide them with a better understanding of dialler management. Customers will always know when it is BT who has called and how they can get in touch with us. We display a valid Freephone CLI so customers can make a free return call to us, and we will leave a message if we have to abandon a call.

We work very closely with the ICO’s operation Linden supported by Industry, Regulators, and consumer bodies