BT offers protection against rogue diallers

UK dial-up Internet users are being offered tools to fight a notorious premium rate call scam, and the watchdog is delighted

BT is giving protection against fraudsters who hijack dial-up Internet connections and redirect them to premium rate telephone numbers.

The telco announced on Tuesday that is giving away a software application to combat the problem of rogue diallers, which has already cost UK computer users hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The software, called BT Modem Protection, will stop a PC from dialling a premium rate telephone number unless the number has been included it in a list of 'approved numbers'. This should stop dialler software, which can be secretly installed on a PC and used to connect to the Web via premium numbers rather than their ISP's dial-up number. Often the user will only discover the problem when their next bill from BT arrives.

BT is also launching an early-warning system that will alert customers if an unusually expensive call is made from their number, or if calls are made to parts of the world notorious for operating the dialler scam.

BT's move has been welcomed by the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS), which regulates commercial telephone services.

"This is really good news," said an ICSTIS spokeswoman. "We’ve been pushing for this for quite some time."

A BT spokesman confirmed that the software will be available to all of its phone customers, even if they use an ISP other than BT Retail. Broadband users who do not have a dial-up modem connected are not affected by rogue diallers.