Ofcom tells phone networks to implement tougher checks after three quarters of Brits are targeted by scammers using fake numbers
- Nearly 41million Britons have received suspicious texts or calls
- Some 700,000 answered fraud calls this summer as number seemed legitimate
- Phone companies told to identify and block those that falsely use UK numbers
- They also must make sure that all numbers meet the UK’s 10- or 11-digit format
Landline and mobile phone providers have been told to implement tougher checks on the calls they put through to their customers, after a boom in scammers using fake numbers.
Industry regulator Ofcom said phone companies must better protect customers as scam calls and texts have become a ‘major’ source of fraud.
Three quarters of people in the UK, or almost 41million, are estimated to have received ‘suspicious’ calls or texts in the last three months, the watchdog added.
Three quarters of people in the UK received ‘suspicious’ calls or texts in the last three months
Some 700,000 Brits answered fraud calls this summer, as criminals have become more sophisticated by imitating UK phone numbers of legitimate organisations, like banks and Government departments.
‘If a call to a mobile or landline phone appears trustworthy, people are more likely to answer it and follow the scammers’ instructions,’ Ofcom said.
To help combat this problem, phone providers will be required to identify and block calls from abroad that falsely use UK numbers as well as make sure that all numbers meet the UK’s 10- or 11-digit format.
Ofcom admitted it is not currently ‘technically feasible to identify all spoofed numbers, particularly where the caller spoofs a valid number’, but said there were steps that providers could take to block certain suspicious numbers.
Companies have until May next year to implement technical changes needed to comply with the new rules.
Ofcom’s group director for networks and communications, Lindsey Fussell, said scam calls were a ‘clear and present’ danger to every phone user.
‘Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and it’s easy to be caught out by a scam,’ she added.
‘Blocking fake numbers can have a significant impact, so we’re making sure all phone companies apply this protection for their customers.’
Some phone providers have already voluntarily implemented these changes, with TalkTalk reporting a 65 per cent reduction in complaints about scam calls since making the change.
The watchdog has also updated its guidance on how phone companies can prevent scammers from accessing valid phone numbers.
Companies should make sure they run ‘know your customer’ checks on business customers, for example by checking the Companies House register, fraud risk databases and the Financial Conduct Authority’s Warning List.
Ofcom said: ‘Ensuring that the CLI (calling line identification) data includes a valid, dialable number, and that the caller has authority to use the number, is important so that people have accurate information about who is making a call when they receive it.
‘This can help them decide whether or not to answer the call.’
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