Could technology be the key to tackling scam phone calls? – DIGIT.FYI

David Paul
,
Regulator Ofcom has announced new plans to help combat the rise in scam phone calls using fake numbers – and accessing real ones.
According to the regulator, around 45 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts last summer alone, and criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
Nearly a million of the target consumers ended up followed the scammers’ instructions, risking financial loss and emotional distress during that period, Ofcom added.
There are currently few solutions available to combat scam phone calls. However, Ofcom said it has started examining how technology could be helping to prevent them at source in the future.
For calls originating in the UK, this would involve the network from which the call is being made “authenticating” the caller’s ID information before connecting them.
This should be achievable once the UK’s transition to digital landlines is complete within the next three years, Ofcom said.
In 2025, analogue phone lines are set to be switched off in the UK, not only cutting millions off from the ability to make landline calls but stopping hackers from scamming using analogue lines.
“According to estimates, more than 14 million traditional lines will be affected when the analogue phone network is switched off in 2025,” commented Stephen Milne, head of strategic projects at CENSIS.
Until this switch-off, Ofcom has proposed strengthened rules and guidance to combat number spoofing. All telephone networks involved in the transmission of a call will be expected to block numbers that are clearly spoofed.
This rule would apply to all phone companies, ensuring the protection applies to millions of people.
Commenting on the measures, Huw Saunders, Ofcom’s Director of Network Infrastructure and Resilience, 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.”
Ofcom has also said that it’s new guidance “sets out clear expectations for phone companies to make sure they run ‘know your customer’ checks on business customers”.
Spoofed numbers can be identified in several ways using technology, Ofcom has said, including calls originating from abroad that do not have a valid caller ID and calls that already appear on Ofcom’s Do Not Originate list.
Phone companies should act to prevent any further potential misuse, including suspending the number and reporting evidence of fraudulent activity to law enforcement, Ofcom concluded.
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David Paul
Staff Writer, DIGIT
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