BT Bars Scam Diallers… For Now

BT has responded to the growing problem of rogue telephone diallers by blocking 1,000 premium rate numbers used by the downloaded applets.

Diallers are generally installed without a computer users knowledge, often through a website or as part of an application or virus. The dialler then replaces the users’ ISP details and instead access the internet using an expensive premium rate number. BT admit that they have dealt with 45,000 complaints from subscribers who have fallen victim to this scam, with another 9,000 cases pending.

With the offending numbers blocked, diallers will not be able to get through – for the time being. This is only a temporary fix – new diallers are released almost daily and I’m sure it might take somewhere in the region of about a week for someone to come up with a dialler that can check a regularly updated table of numbers that haven’t been blocked yet. Putting BT and its subscribers back where they started.

Realistically, the only way round this is for concerned subscribers to block access to all premium-rate numbers – which can be inconvenient. BT report that some 1.5 million customers currently use this approach, and the company provides premium-rate number blocking as a free service.

Gavin Patterson, BT’s group managing director for consumer and venture business said in a statement: “We have taken the decision to block numbers suspected of being associated with diallers as soon as we are alerted to a problem. We have offered free premium rate barring to all customers, and a removable bar for premium rate and international calls for UK£1.75 (€2.54)a month. We have made it clear that we are not the ones profiteering from people’s misfortune. In fact, we will continue to forego our share of the call revenue generated by these disputed calls.

“We will be emailing all of our dial-up customers again to give them advice on how to avoid falling victim to a dialler, because customers need to take action as well to protect themselves, as we believe many cases aren’t fraud but are due to a lack of awareness from customers. In fact, we are seeing that many cases are cleared up when we explain where these charges have come from, which underlines our view that there needs to be greater awareness of how these services operate.”

BT comment on diallers

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?