BT launches free service to crackdown on nuisance calls in Manchester

Millions of unwanted calls received by city’s households every week; Top five worst nuisance callers named; TV and radio presenter Christine Lampard signs up as BT Call Protect Ambassador

BT today announced a crackdown on nuisance calls and launched a new free service - the first of its kind in the UK - that helps its home phone customers in Manchester stop the millions of unwanted calls received every year.

BT said it was “declaring war” on the companies that regularly pester its customers with nuisance calls on subjects such as PPI and personal accident claims.

Across the UK, BT estimates that the BT Call Protect service could divert up to 30 million nuisance calls a week to a junk voicemail box – preventing them from irritating customers.

The exclusive Call Protect Service has been designed so it is easy for customers to switch on and simple to manage from the home phone or online.

The latest research carried out for BT shows that in Manchester on average people receive four nuisance calls a week.

Sixty per cent of people in the UK said they find nuisance calls stressful. More women say they find nuisance calls stressful than men do, with two-thirds of women and just over half of men revealing they find these stressful.

More than a quarter of people are concerned about their parents or grandparents getting nuisance calls in case they are conned.

The BT Call Protect service is the first of its kind in the UK, combining network intelligence with the ability for customers to control the calls they receive, either from the home phone or online.

The launch of the BT Call Protect service has been made possible by a technological breakthrough, which has been achieved by harnessing huge computing power to analyse large amounts of live data. This analysis enables network experts at BT’s centre in Oswestry in Shropshire to identify rogue numbers – typically those that make enormous numbers of calls - and to add them to a BT blacklist.

It works proactively to divert calls before they even reach and irritate a customer unlike reactive blocking where the customer has been troubled and where the numbers used by nuisance callers are changed frequently to avoid detection.

This proactive intervention will drastically reduce the number of such calls customers receive. BT says recent data shows that it could divert up to 15 million calls a week from personal accident claims and PPI companies alone.

Although the BT blacklist will divert the top offending nuisance callers, for calls not captured by the technology, customers will be able compile their own personal blacklist, by adding individual unwanted numbers. They can add a number simply by dialling 1572 after receiving the call or by going online.

If large numbers of customers identify troublesome numbers that they wish to divert they will be also added to the BT blacklist. They can also set BT Call Protect to divert whole categories of calls, such as international calls or those from withheld numbers. The service will then prevent these types of calls from reaching the home by diverting them into the junk voicemail.

BT has published the nuisance call figures for the seven days 13 – 19 December 2016 toillustrate the Top five worst nuisance callers by category.

Top five worst nuisance callers
1Accident claims12,288,02239%
3Computer scam2,673,6659%
4Personal data request (Scam)1,434,8905%
5Silent calls987,9893%
Figures for 13-19 December 2016

BT has signed up television and radio presenter, Christine Lampard as its ambassador to promote BT Call Protect to customers. She said: “All of us have experienced the frustrations of nuisance calls at home, be it interruptions at family meal times, while you’re busy working or just trying to have a quiet evening in.

“My own parents have noticed a huge rise in these sorts of calls recently, an increase that seems to be affecting a majority of the older generation. BT Call Protect is a great new service designed to help prevent these calls. Any help we can give to our parents and grandparents to avoid the stress of nuisance calls gets my vote.”

Mike Blackburn, chairman of BT’s North West regional board, said: “This new service is great news for people in Manchester. We know that nuisance calls are a big problem for people in the city, who receive many millions of such calls every year. Some of these calls can be upsetting and unnerving as well as very annoying, particularly for people who are more vulnerable perhaps through age or disability. We take this issue very seriously and, as this important new service demonstrates, are determined to do everything we can to help our customers beat the problem.”

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.

“We’ve been at the forefront of equipping our customers to defend themselves against the huge numbers of PPI and unwanted marketing calls that are continuing to grow. Now, 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.

“We’re leading the way and calling on other telecoms companies to up their game in the fight against this menace.”

BT has previously led the fight to protect its customers from child abuse images on the internet with the development of the Cleanfeed filter. And the company has helped prevent nuisance calls by developing the BT8500 Advanced Call Blocker phone which blocks up to 100 per cent of unwanted calls.

It is simple for customers to sign up to BT Call Protect. All they have to do is visit www.bt.com/callprotector call 0800 389 1572.

Enquiries about this news release should be made to Janet Hare at the BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or email: janet.hare@bt.com

All BT news releases can be accessed at our web site.

Notes to editors

Consumer research

2,001 adults from England, Scotland and Wales participated in the study. The survey was drafted by BT and the data was outsourced and gathered in December 2016 by Censuswide, an online research database which polled the respondents on our behalf.

The scope of nuisance calls in the UK:

  • On average, people receive 4 nuisance calls a week.
  • If people don’t hang up immediately, the average nuisance call lasts 1 minute and 20 seconds.
  • On average, 16-24 year olds receive 3 nuisance calls a week. This is compared to 55+ year olds who receive 5.
  • Experience counts when it comes to handling these calls. If 16-24 year olds don’t hang up immediately, the average nuisance call lasts over 2 minutes. This is compared to 55+ year olds who report that the average call lasts for just 56 seconds.
  • On average, people in the North East receive the most nuisance calls per week – 5.
  • The majority of people said they most frequently receive nuisance calls in the pm (59%), with the most common time being 4.35pm.
  • Out of the respondents that said they most frequently receive nuisance calls in the am, the most common time to receive them was 8.29am.

The impact of nuisance calls in the UK:

  • Over a quarter (28%) of people are concerned about their parents/ grandparents getting nuisance calls in case they get conned.
  • 60% of people find nuisance callers stressful, with over a fifth (22%) finding them ‘very’ stressful. This is particularly concerning as over a third of Brits suffer anxiety as a result of stress (36%) while almost a fifth (18%) suffer blood pressure increases.
  • Women find nuisance calls more stressful than men do, two thirds (66%) of women compared to 54% of men find it stressful

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com.