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Ofcom to crackdown on phone scammers as millions targeted

Megan Robinson
February 23, 2022

Nearly a million of those targeted followed scammers instructions as criminals become more sophisticated

Ofcom has proposed measures to make it harder for scammers to use UK networks after 45 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts last summer.

Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated as they have been adapting to changing circumstances by texting fraudulent vaccination links and impersonating delivery companies.

Ofcom is proposing strengthened rules so telephone networks involved in the transmission of a call should block numbers that are clearly spoofed including: numbers from abroad without valid caller ID, numbers that do not meet the UK’s 10 or 11-digit format, and calls from Ofcom’s do not originate list.

Other ways Ofcom are cracking down on scammers involve phone companies running ‘know your customer’ checks on business customers, suspending fake numbers and reporting evidence of fraudulent activity to the police.

Once the UK’s transition to digital landlines is complete in a few years time, phone companies may be able to put the technology in place to authenticate the caller’s ID information before connecting them.

Ofcom’s director of network infrastructure and resilience Huw Sanders said: “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.

“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.”

How to stop scammers

Uswitch telecoms expert Ernest Doku added: “Ofcom must ensure that any efforts to stop the scourge of nuisance calls also focus on landline phones, as our own research found that scammers now represent more than a quarter of all calls to our landlines.

“The volume of these scam calls for landline customers now means that one in five customers actively avoid answering their phone in case it’s a nuisance call.

“If you’re struggling with scam calls or texts, you can report them to your network operator or forward them to the ‘7726’ service. For landline customers, you can also register with the Telephone Preference Service, which is in place to cut down on the amount of telemarketing calls that you receive.

“Never give out personal details on the phone unless you are sure that the caller is legitimate. If you do suspect it is a scam, hang up immediately, check if it’s a genuine call by contacting an official number from the company that supposedly called and report it to Action Fraud if it’s not.”

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