Regulator Ofcom held talks with all of Britain’s major phone networks who have green lit plans to bar almost all ‘UK Caller ID’ calls from abroad
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Scammers from foreign countries are set to be blocked from making fraudulent calls to Britons in landmark plans, it has been claimed.
Phone networks have jointly agreed to automatically prevent calls if they’re made from overseas but disguised as UK numbers, according to reports.
It is estimated the move could prevent hundreds of millions of such calls each year.
It comes after phone companies were blasted by the National Crime Agency for not doing enough to combat soaring numbers of scam calls and texts over the last 12 months.
Some fraudsters are even stealing thousands of pounds from unsuspecting victims by ‘spoofing’ genuine numbers of British banks.
Regulator Ofcom – which found scammers targeted a whopping 45 million people with fraudulent texts and calls this summer – has held talks with networks who have green lit plans to bar almost all ‘UK Caller ID’ calls from abroad, reports the Daily Telegraph.
And telecoms standards body NICC has drawn up guidance.
Some have even already started implementing such preventative actions and others are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
It does not include calls from roaming mobile phones or call centres, but they must first prove to be legit.
A source told the newspaper: “We have identified that a large proportion of scam calls are made from abroad in this way.
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“This isn’t a silver bullet, but we believe that blocking this traffic will have a significant impact.”
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel last week said the Government alone cannot tackle the rise in fraud as three new industry charters were unveiled with the aim of strengthening security.
Fraud offences have risen by 24% during the pandemic, according to the Home Office, and the charters will see banks, accountancy firms and telecommunications businesses commit to working with the Government to stem the tide.
Plans include a pilot scheme to bring in point of sale bank authorisations for mobile phone contracts; a cross sector plan to protect customers who fall prey to a data breach; and a crackdown on fake text messages that appear to be from legitimate companies.
The Joint Fraud Taskforce, a body including members from Government, the private sector, law enforcement and victims’ groups, is also being re-launched under the leadership of Security Minister Damien Hinds and will meet for the first time on Thursday.
Ms Patel said: “I am deeply concerned about the devastating impact fraud can have on victims and I will not tolerate criminals lining their pockets at the expense of law-abiding citizens.
“Government alone cannot fix this which is why The Joint Fraud Taskforce will bring together key business leaders to work in partnership to protect the public and tackle this cowardly crime.”
All the major high street banks have signed the charter for the sector, which includes commitments to crack down on the movement of stolen money, and to give consistent advice to consumers about where to get support if they fall victim to fraud.
David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “Banks are fighting fraud on every front, but the sector can’t stop all fraud on its own. Only by working together with other key industries and government can we combine our powers to make the UK a safe place to do business.”
The main mobile firms – BT EE, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone – are signatories of the telecoms charter, and 12 leading accountancy bodies have signed up for their sector.
Members of the public are encouraged to forward suspicious text messages to 7726, and if they are victim to a scam to report it to Action Fraud.