Ofcom proposing further action to tackle ‘spoofing’


Ofcom is today proposing to strengthen its guidance on how phone companies should identify and block calls from abroad that falsely use UK numbers, known as spoofing. 

A common tactic used by criminals to defraud victims is to imitate – or ‘spoof’ – the phone numbers of legitimate organisations, like banks and Government departments. Fraudsters based abroad often spoof UK caller IDs knowing people are more likely to answer than if an unknown international number is displayed.

To make it harder for scammers to use spoofed numbers, Ofcom strengthened its rules and guidance in November 2022 to require all telephone networks involved in transmitting calls – either to mobiles or landlines – to identify and block spoofed calls, where technically feasible.

This included guidance on blocking calls from abroad that are using a UK number as a ‘Network Number’, which identify where the call is being made from.

To help combat this problem, Ofcom is today proposing to extend the measures in this guidance to include ‘Presentation Numbers’, which identify who is making the call.
Ofcom is inviting comments on today’s proposal by 28 March 2024, and will consider responses before making a final decision.

Says Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy:

“Number spoofing is a common tactic used by fraudsters to con victims into parting with their hard-earned cash. While this is an encouraging step, Ofcom must ensure telecoms providers do more to prevent fraudsters reaching their consumers.

“Government and regulators should not hesitate to go further by plugging the gaps in fraud prevention within the telecoms, online advertising and domain sectors, making it harder for fraudsters to reach potential victims. 

“The onus shouldn’t fall on consumers to protect themselves, but it is important they are made aware of how they can spot scams. People can sign up to Which?’s scam alert service to keep themselves informed about the latest tactics used by fraudsters.”

Chris Price
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