The UK telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has announced new regulations that will force phone companies to take action against fake phone number usage by detecting and, where possible, banning spoofed calls. This action tries to address an issue that has led to 40.8 million people becoming the subject of fraudulent calls and messages throughout the summer of 2022.
Technical steps to combat nuisance calls have already been put in place by the vast majority of the large ISPs, phone companies and mobile network operators, although these measures are not always successful. Furthermore, there are still many operators that could do more, notably smaller providers and some VoIP carriers.
According to the telecom watchdog, preventing such calls without substantial international cooperation and coordination is technically complex and frequently risks intercepting legitimate communications as well.
According to Ofcom, around 700,000 UK residents have fallen victim to spoofed phone calls in the three months leading up to August 2022 alone. The increase in fraudulent calls has prompted Ofcom to revise its operator guidelines. The regulator will now require networks to detect and stop calls faking a British caller ID from overseas, as well as ensure that all numbers adhere to the UK’s 10 or 11-digit format. In addition, all calls from numbers on Ofcom’s Do Not Originate list must be blocked.
Providers have six months to complete the technical adjustments required to comply with the new regulations before they go into effect in May 2023.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Group Director for Networks and Communications commented: “Scam calls and texts are a major source of fraud, and they represent 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. We’re constantly working with phone companies and other organizations on new ways to combat these scams. Blocking fake numbers can have a significant impact, so we’re making sure all phone companies apply this protection for their customers.”