BT customers received more than 12 million nuisance calls relating to accident claims in a week, new figures have revealed. The UK network picked up around 31m unwanted calls from 13 to 19 December, with accident claims accounting for 39% of them.

The company says it is now taking action to divert up to 15m calls a week from personal accident claims and PPI companies.

BT Call Protect will allow experts at the company’s centre in Shropshire to identify rogue numbers – usually those that make large numbers of calls – and add them to a blacklist.

Those calls will then be diverted to a junk voicemail box and prevent them from reaching customers.

BT says its own research shows that on average people receive four nuisance calls a week and that 60% of people find them stressful.

The issue of cold calling has been prominent in the legal sector in recent years, with groups such as the Motor Accident Solicitors Society and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) calling for an outright ban. Currently it is only solicitors who are subject to a ban on cold calling.

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.’

Matt Hancock, minister for digital and culture policy, insisted the government and industry are working together to crack down on them.

He said the government has forced companies to display their numbers when they call, made it easier to prosecute those involved in making the calls, and increased the maximum fines up to £500,000.

Since April, the Informational Commissioner’s Office has issued more than £1m in fines to firms breaking the rules around marketing calls, texts and emails.

Last year APIL started a campaign to ensure claims management companies are subject to the same ban on making cold calls as solicitors. The organisation has said they are ‘tasteless and intrusive’ and generate the perception that obtaining compensation for personal injury is easy, even when there is no injury.