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sentinelvalue
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 1 of 16

Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

Hi - I've tried sending the following feedback/suggestions back to BT via emails as well as complaints without success, so am now trying this medium in a hope that these suggestions can make a positive impact and the requested changes can be implemented.

As I've read with a lot of the other posters in this forum, I get a lot of spurious calls on my landline - they're not scammers, but more of the "change your energy supplier and save money" type calls.   The number of calls I get vary, but have recently numbered about 6 a day - as you can imagine this can get extremely annoying as along with most of the other posters on here, joining TPS doesn't help and reporting the numbers doesn't help either as they're spoofed numbers.

I'm not sure how BT's Call Protect feature is supposed to work and the criteria of how numbers get added to the Call Protect list (i.e. so they're barred for all people who are subscribers of BT Call Protect) - are only numbers that are from "certified scammers" added to the list (e.g. so energy saving type callers wouldn't be added to the list?),  and do any numbers on the list that are added have to be dialing from a "genuine" number and not spoofed?

When I log onto the Call Protect section of the BT website, if I am reading this correctly, then the numbers that get blocked under this scheme are very very small (i.e. the ones with the black dot next to them) - only the occasional one or two that I get out of 100 are successfully blocked by BT Call Protect - as I seem to be in a position where I get new spoofed numbers calling me daily, would it be possible for BT to use the numbers that dial me to be added to the BT Call Protect list which could then help other people? 

I am aware that these numbers are spoofed-I have tried calling these numbers back (sample below received today), and I get a number unavailable tone-and I am well aware that by blocking them I will be denying the ability for future valid landline users who are assigned those numbers the ability to call me, however to be blunt-this doesn't concern me.

I have also added such callers to my personal blacklist, however this list is limited to 100 (a limit which I hit a long long time ago).  I am aware that I can remove some numbers from this blacklist and add new numbers, however this is an unsatisfactory solution as I have noted from the call logs that some of the old numbers on the list still attempt to call me occasionally.  With this in mind is it possible for BT to increase the number of numbers that can be added to the personal blacklist?

I have also purchased a separate call blocker which has a much higher call blocking capacity, but the downside to this device is that the person calling must have made at least one call so that the number can be logged and then blocked from making future calls.  Whilst this also applies to adding numbers to my personal blacklist on the BT website, it is much easier as it can be done with a couple of mouse clicks rather than having to dial a series of numbers on my phone.

With regard to BT implementing measures to stop such calls in future, I would have thought this would be relatively simple to implement if most countries signed up to following the following convention - even if the UK was the only country to do the following, companies would rapidly work out that they can't get away with it.

Firstly I am not sure if this is a legal requirement, but if not it should be made so - all users of the telephone system in the UK must configure their systems to return the actual number they are dialing from, with failure to do so meaning that they would forfeit the right to use the telephone system and their equipment being liable to disconnection at any time with no recourse.  I have worked with comms equipment previously and am aware this may prove challenging in ISDN30 type environments etc however the main number should be returned in such cases - similarly in cases where IP telephony interfaces with POTS the number of where it enters POTS should be returned.

The above measure would mean that any companies found contravening this would find their systems being barred from the UK telephone network.  In cases where persistent calls are being made (e.g. in my case), if the will power were there it should be a relatively simple case for BT to be able to trace the originating network that made the call and hence ban that particular node from the telephone network - in a similar manner to how you can email complaints regarding particular IP addresses performing DoS attacks to an ISP's abuse email address.

Numbers called today :
020 3289 0610 - 6.24pm
0000442032867790 - 6.15pm
0345 055 3969 - 6.10pm
020 7603 4298 - 3.57pm
01823 337593 - 1.39pm (this is actually a valid number of a sandwich shop which has been spoofed)
0330 027 2152 - 11.21am

I appreciate this is somewhat of a long post, however look forward to any comments anyone has regarding this post and obviously some feedback/response from BT !

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pompey1898
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Message 2 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

Hi @sentinelvalue ,

Can I suggest you read some of the posts on here that answer your questions and explain why spoofed calls cannot be blocked (at the moment).

If you really want to stop scam calls 100% get a phone that has call barring.

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sentinelvalue
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 3 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

Hi pompey1898 - thanks for your input.

Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on any of the points below - I'd appreciate your input.

As I understand it, call barring of any kind relies on either barring individual numbers (in which case they will have either had to call once so that their number can be recognised and moving forwards, blocked) or categories of numbers (e.g. starting with a particular area code, or type of call - e.g. VoIP or international etc).  As such, both are "static" types of barring and are pretty "dumb" (in the IT sense of the word).  To draw an analogy it's the difference between building a wall to keep everything/everyone out, and using a missile interception system to take out particular threats.

In my particular situation I am unfortunately not in a position to restrict callers to my number to a particular subset of numbers or people.

The call protect function that BT has is cleverer in this sense as it is essentially building up a knowledgebase of numbers which can then be used to populate the call barring list - however this can easily be countered from the "scammer" perspective by randomising or incrementing the number that is sent out as part of the caller ID when making the call.  As long as this didn't then make the number fall into a category as outlined above, the "scammer" could then continue to make calls to their hearts' content.  Also - thinking this through to the logical conclusion this would also mean that any scammer doing this could essentially "use up" every single "normal" landline number in the UK - which would be a very interesting situation to be in ! (e.g. for London numbers starting with 0207[8] 111 1111 and incrementing until you get to 0207[8] 999 9999).  If the measure I suggested about making the caller ID that is sent to be accurate a legal requirement then making such calls would mean those callers would be immediately disconnected from the system and unable to affect any other callers.

With regard to my question to BT about increasing the number of numbers that can be added to the personal blacklist - can I ask for some feedback into this as to whether it's possible please ? Without knowing the overall architecture, I'd imagine that it would simply be the case of increasing the upper limit on a database?

On a side note, I noticed something interesting after posting my set of numbers yesterday - here is the list of callers I had today :

Friday 17:56:08 0345 055 3969
Friday 17:00:36 0345 055 3969
Friday 16:25:02 0345 055 3969
Friday 13:01:14 020 3289 0610
Friday 12:47:32 0345 055 3969
Friday 11:18:40 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:39 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:37 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:36 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:35 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:34 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:33 0330 027 2152
Friday 11:18:32 0330 027 2152

As you can see - this number - 0330 027 2152 - called once every second between 11:18:32 and 11:18:40 seconds inclusive.  What's even more interesting is that although I blocked this number on my device on my end, if a blocked caller calls me I am still notified of this and I didn't get any notifications whatsoever, which means that someone reading this forum must have added them to the call protect database.  Whoever did that .. thank you 🙂

Edit: Just noticed that the 0330 027 2152 number didn't call @ 11:18:38 - this hints to me that on this occasion it was most likely a human on the other end of the phone making these calls ....

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pompey1898
Expert
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Message 4 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

Hi @sentinelvalue ,

Perhaps I used the wrong word in "barring".  What I should have said "blocking". 

Try googling "call blocking phones".

Nothing is going to stop anyone ringing your number, but these will stop them getting through.

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sentinelvalue
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 5 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

pompey1898 - thanks for your reply.

I think whether it is call barring or call blocking - currently the only truly effective solution is to whitelist a list of callers who will always be allowed to call you and everyone else can be safely ignored - alas I am not in this situation and I guess a lot of other people aren't either.

Given the current "static" technology that exists for client side (i.e. non PSTN side) blocking/barring technology I guess this will remain the case for a while unless BT make their database of spam numbers open source at which point vendors can develop a product which queries does a lookup of the caller ID and compares it to the database before allowing the call through - but as per my previous post - even this is not foolproof.

I am still interested in finding out whether anyone from BT can comment about increasing the number of numbers that can be added to the personal blacklist service.

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pompey1898
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Message 6 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

Hi @sentinelvalue ,

What you are suggesting is way way into the future.  Did you google ?  If not I did :-

https://www.ligo.co.uk/blog/top-3-nuisance-call-blocking-phones/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4oLZ4_zC4wIVGODtC...

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sentinelvalue
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Message 7 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

Hi pompey1898 - thanks for your reply.

Yes I did Google it - although I don't want to release too much information into the public domain I have an older phone which has some of these technologies present, and I also have a separate device also.  Again - none of these are an effective solution for those who are unable to whitelist numbers and to ignore everyone else.  

BT Call Blocking is still not foolproof - the calls that I get (when answered) have someone on the end of them available immediately - there is no pause or delay which indicates a large set of numbers are being called, and then routed to an available "scammer" - this means that (in my case for example), it is most likely implementing BT Call Blocking will make no discernable difference as they will just say "I am from Company X regarding energy saving" - and I will still have to take time out to listen to the message.

The issue with most of these types of technologies as they are currently implemented is that their blacklist has only a set number of entries that can be added due to storage considerations on the actual phone itself - which then makes itself irrelevant as a blacklist source for reasons already explained.  BT's personal blacklist system is better as it is held server side system but there is still (hopefully currently) an upper limit which then has the same issue.

The manual for BT's Premium call blocking phone can be found here :

https://shop.bt.com/content/uni2/documentation/d93x/premium_phone_quick_set-up_and_user_guide.pdf

There is no data connection for the device which seems to indicate to me that there is no method for the phone to automatically update it's call blocking list from the internet.  

I note the phone does have a Bluetooth sync option with a mobile, and if BT were clever they could update the caller list via this method (using data tethering), however the manual seems to indicate the phone is not capable of this and can only sync contacts.

When you refer to what I am suggesting being way way into the future - it depends on what suggestion you're referring to.  If it's the idea regarding legislating for an accurate caller ID to be accurate before being allowed onto the UK phone network then yes, however if you're referring to referencing the server side list of blacklist numbers from BT, then actually from a technology standpoint everything already exists to make this a reality - and it can be brought to market pretty quickly.

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pompey1898
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Message 8 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers


@sentinelvaluewrote:

Hi pompey1898 - thanks for your reply.

BT Call Blocking is still not foolproof - the calls that I get (when answered) have someone on the end of them available immediately - there is no pause or delay which indicates a large set of numbers are being called, and then routed to an available "scammer" - this means that (in my case for example), it is most likely implementing BT Call Blocking will make no discernable difference as they will just say "I am from Company X regarding energy saving" - and I will still have to take time out to listen to the message.

 


 Hi again @sentinelvalue ,

This will be my last post on the subject as you don't seem to have got the message, despite 100's of posts on spoofing, scamming etc.

HAGD

 

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Andy005
Aspiring Expert
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Message 9 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers


@sentinelvaluewrote:

pompey1898 - thanks for your reply.

I think whether it is call barring or call blocking - currently the only truly effective solution is to whitelist a list of callers who will always be allowed to call you and everyone else can be safely ignored - alas I am not in this situation and I guess a lot of other people aren't either.

 


Hi @sentinelvalue 

I would think that it's unlikely that BT will increase the blacklist allowance, simply because we would have the same problem in a few months time, and more importantly as you've said, creating a whitelist is a far better option.

Can I ask why you wouldn't use a whitelist or don't think many others wouldn't either?

The main down side to a whitelist is that the caller has the option to announce themselves, the recipient can then accept, reject or block the caller. Hardly any unwanted callers bother to announce themselves so your nuisance calls will generally speaking, drop to zero. Hospitals I think often use withhold their number and as far as I know they don't leave a message, so the solution there is to give them a mobile number.

sentinelvalue
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 10 of 16

Re: Call Protect/Personal Blacklist & an idea for dealing with energy saving callers

pompey1898 - thanks for your input.

Andy005 - thanks for replying.

W.r.t. BT increasing the number of numbers allowed on the blacklist - as long as the root cause for this issue isn't solved, yes - additional numbers will always appear on the list of numbers that need to be added to the blacklist, but I do not feel that the correct response is to limit the number to 100 - in this case why 100 ? Why not 10 ? 50 ? 75 ? etc - as long as customers are experiencing this problem it's actually in BT's interest to increase the amount of numbers that customers can add to their personal blacklist as they can use this to cross correlate against other customers and then add those numbers to the call protect list - thereby increasing their knowledgebase of known spoofed/scammer numbers.

I think the reason why I am thinking of a whitelist will not work is the following - and also because I am probably using the networking security definition of a whitelist rather than the more loose definition you probably are referring to.

A whitelist in its strictest form allows a predefined number of users to connect to you - set aside the ability for a caller to announce themselves for now - as this doesn't exist in the IT definition of whitelist.  So if your whitelist contains 5 friends and family, then only those people will ever be able to contact you - everyone else can't.  However this is an extremely restrictive list as you can imagine, and therefore numbers need to be added to this - e.g. GP, other commonly used numbers - maybe for the corner shop, takeaway etc - at this point your list may grow to say - for example - 10 numbers.  Remember - due to number spoofing, if any of these numbers is for any reason chosen by the "scammer" then your whitelist is null and void - but then what happens if the number that your GP calls you from (which may be different to the number that you call them on) changes, and they try to contact you to ask you about medication for an elderly relative ?  They won't be able to get through 😞 The message from this ? The whitelist is static and to be truly effective needs to be constantly maintained to be useful/effective.

Ah - but I hear you say - this is where the ability to announce yourself comes into play.  Possibly - but it still isn't an elegant solution.  Look at it this way - imagine you're running a business or am an important organisation and you receive calls from members of the public (possibly internationally as well) - at this point you've whitelisted x numbers, but everyone else has to announce themselves before they can speak to you - doesn't seem very professional does it ?  Can you really afford to bar VoIP or international calls ? No you can't 

I am well aware that most of these diallers use an algorithm of war dialling - so they will ring 5 numbers and the first number that answers get routed to an operative and the others are dropped - these types of calls would be intercepted via the announce system, however as my previous call logs indicate - in my particular situation I think someone is actually sitting in an office somewhere manually pressing the redial button, and in such a situation I think they'd have no problems navigating or announcing themselves - of course I can choose not to take the call at that point, but I've still wasted time vetting the call and I could achieve the same objective by just letting the call go to answerphone .. at which point I'd have to vet the call and therefore be at my original situation ...

This does make me wonder - what happens to the very large/important organisations like the UN, Microsoft, Amazon, Home Office, etc etc - obviously they'd have a reception taking calls - but I wonder what percentage of their calls are scammers/spoofers and whether they use another system to vet such calls ?

Two new numbers called today :

14:45:07 01942 365030
14:12:36 020 8133 0649

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