The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom (Office of Communications), has today introduced new rules to better protect phone users against "fake phone numbers". Ofcom notes that scams are a widespread problem and need to be tackled. The new rules come after 40.8 million adults in the UK have received a suspicious call or text in the last three months up to August 2022.
A common tactic used by offenders to defraud victims is to imitate - or ‘spoof’ - the phone numbers of legitimate organisations, like banks and Government departments.
Identify and Block Spoofed Scam Calls
Ofcom is strengthening its rules to require all telephone networks involving in transmitting calls to identify and block spoofed calls where feasible.
Ofcom has given the following updated guidance on how all phone companies should identify and block spoofed calls. This move improves the accuracy of Calling Line Identification (CLI) data.
- Make sure a number meets the UK's 10 or 11-digit format
- Block calls from numbers that are on Ofcom's Do Not Originate list
- Identify and block calls from abroad spoofing a UK caller ID
The UK regulator has given six months to phone companies to make the necessary technical changes before the rules come into effect in May 2023.
New Guidelines to Prevent Misuse of Real Numbers
Ofcom has also issued new guidelines to phone companies to curb the misuse of real numbers and how they can prevent scammers from accessing valid phone numbers. As Ofcom allocates telephone numbers to telecoms firms in large blocks, the service providers are expected to run "Know You Customer" checks on business customers. These steps could involve checking the Companies House register, fraud risk databases and the Financial Conduct Authority's Warning List to unveil information that may indicate a high risk of misuse by the customer seeking to use phone numbers.
Ofcom also requires phone companies to act proactively to prevent any potential misuse of numbers, which include suspending the number and reporting evidence of fraudulent activity to law enforcement.
Ofcom believes blocking fake numbers can have a significant impact, and so is making sure all phone companies apply this protection to their customers.