BT is to stamp down on rogue diallers by blocking traffic to the premium-rate numbers believed to be associated with them.
Over the last few months, telecoms companies have come under increasing pressure not to lease lines to the companies that use these diallers, which are often unwittingly downloaded onto PCs by internet users.
Rogue diallers change a PC's settings without the owner's consent, shifting the internet connection away from the user's normal internet service provider to a premium-rate line costing £1.50 a minute or more.
At the moment 19,000 BT customers are in dispute with the telco over diallers, owing a total of around £2m.
Because the operators are usually based overseas it is difficult for premium-rate services regulator the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (Icstis) to pursue them or for consumers to get their money back.
"The number of people affected now is so large now it is clear that Icstis will not be able to pursue each case, so we will take proactive action," a BT spokesman told vnunet.com.
Gavin Patterson, group managing director of consumer and ventures at BT, said in a statement: "When a premium-rate number is suspected of being used to deliver rogue diallers we will block traffic to that number without waiting for the regulator to complete an investigation."
BT said it wanted to show its customers that it does not profit from these diallers.
The telco claimed its share per £100 run up by the dialler is just £1.85, with most of the rest going to the operator of the premium-rate number.
BT said it would donate its share of the revenue for the disputed calls - around £37,000 - to the ChildLine charity. But those internet users affected will still have to pay their bills.
BT said it could not waive the amounts owed and added that changes needed to be made.
"We have to pay the fees to the operators of these lines upfront so would like to see this changed. We would also like to see these service providers lodge a bond with Icstis," it said.
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