February 23, 2022
UK communications regulator Ofcom has proposed new regulation to stop scammers using fake phone numbers and making ‘spoof calls’.
Ofcom wants to introduce strengthened rules to fight number spoofing – calls which imitate the phone numbers of actual companies or organisations – and to stop scammers having access to their own phone numbers to perform other types of swindling.
As part of the new rules operators would be expected to block numbers that are spoofed. Apparently a spoofed call can have a number of tells, such as if they originate from abroad and do not have a valid caller ID, if the number does not meet the UK’s ten or eleven digit format, and if they appear to be from numbers that are already on Ofcom’s ‘do not originate’ list.
The regulator also wants to stop scammers having access to their own valid phone numbers. In order to ensure phone companies are monitoring if numbers they have allocated are being misused, it wants telcos to perform ‘know your customer’ checks on businesses, and where applicable suspend numbers and report evidence of fraudulent activity to law enforcement.
Ofcom is also apparently looking at more technological solutions to combat scammers, such as operators implementing automatic authentication of caller ID before a call is connected, which it claims should be achievable once the UK’s transition to digital landlines is complete.
“The threat posed by scammers has grown significantly in recent years, and the sophisticated tactics used by these criminals can have devastating consequences for victims,” said Huw Saunders, Ofcom’s Director of Network Infrastructure and Resilience. “We’re taking action so phone companies have stronger systems in place to disrupt scams. While there is no silver bullet that will end the scourge of scam calls completely, we’re working with industry on how we can use technology to make it as difficult as possible to reach people.”
Ofcom claims almost 45 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts last summer – assuming it’s talking exclusively about the UK that covers most of the adult population. Getting scammed can take a number of forms and can be devastating to the individual, so no one is going to disagree with these ideas in principle, however the detail of what new systems operators might be expected to set up and at what cost could provide a point of contention.
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