Nuisance call crackdown as Ofcom pledges to create white list to end

Digital Minister Margot James Digital Minister Margot James said nuisance calls are a plague on societyCredit: Heathcliff O’Malley Some of the most pernicious instances have been cases where fraudsters are spoofing numbers allocated to banks or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, according to OfcomCredit:REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth File photo of a pedestrian walking past the headquarters of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in central London The regulator plans on working with telecom companies to create a central database of verified phone numbers, so that they can track the real number behind each phone call much easier, and weed out numbers that are not recognised as genuine.“As part of Ofcom’s work to tackle nuisance and scam calls, we believe a common database of phone numbers is needed to enable phone companies to verify that Caller ID numbers are genuine,” says Ofcom.The move has been welcomed by members of parliament, with Digital Minister Margot James saying: “Nuisance calls are a plague on society. We’ve already introduced a range of measures to tackle cold calling and I welcome Ofcom taking the next steps to stamp out this unwanted practice once and for all.”Last year, the law changed so that the bosses of nuisance call companies can be held  personally liable if their business breaks the law and they can be fined up to £500,000.Previously the Information Commissioner’s Office could only fine the company, which allowed directors to escape paying out by declaring bankruptcy and starting up again under a new company name. A crackdown on nuisance callers has been pledged by Ofcom as they aim to create a “whitelist” to end scammers hiding behind UK landlines.The communications regulator says that nuisance callers are undermining the public’s confidence in telephone services and that abuse of the system has already led to significant harm for consumers.Currently, scammers have the ability to hack into the telephone network and change the number that appears when calls are made – an act known as spoofing.This means that consumers may see a number they recognise and divulge personal information, including bank details, not knowing that it is in fact a spoof caller hiding behind a legitimate number.“Some of the most pernicious instances have been cases where fraudsters are spoofing numbers allocated to banks or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, that would not be normally used to make outbound calls, such as customer contact numbers,” said Ofcom. Billions of unsolicited calls were made last year in the UK, according to Which?, while research shows three-quarters (71 per cent) of people receive at least one nuisance call a month, from a survey of more than 2,000 UK households.More than half (58 per cent) of these cold calls and texts made the people who received them feel annoyed or anxious.Ofcom is working with UK Finance, an industry body representing the UK financial sector, to share information with telecoms providers about the numbers that should not be used in call origination, but argue that technical solutions could provide more dynamic information about valid telephone numbers.Telecoms companies are also in the process of changing to use internet networks to carry landline calls rather than the antiquated telephone network, and should have completed the switch by 2030.Once this is in place, industry insiders say that it should be much more difficult for hackers to infiltrate the network with spoof numbers. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *