Ofcom scam data sees industry leader call for "fundamental rethink"

Ofcom scam data sees industry leader call for "fundamental rethink"

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Data released on 20 October by British regulator Ofcom confirmed that 44.6 million adults in the UK were targeted with scam calls and texts over the summer.

With an official population of 67.22 million in 2020, it means more than 65% of the country received a suspicious or scam call or text over the three-month period. Text was the most used method, with 71% receiving a suspicious text and 61% of people aged 75 and over receiving a potential scam call to their landline.

As many as 82% received a suspicious text, recorded message or live phone call to a landline or mobile, further, 44% of those who had received a suspicious text message reported receiving such a message at least once a week.

In a statement the regulator said it is “concerned about the significant rise in scam calls and texts over the last 18 months”. However, Katia Gonzalez, head of fraud prevention and security at BICS, said: “It is clear from this data that a fundamental rethink in approach is required."

She continued: "Fraud is a global problem that requires global collaboration to address. We need to do more to stop the scammers at source. This means greater collaboration across the entire communications ecosystem. Telecoms firms, governments and regulators need to work together, with better coordination between countries, and an open, proactive approach to sharing resources and information on the latest vulnerabilities."

BICS uses AI systems to detect and block incoming fraudulent calls and texts for operators as part of its FraudGuard tool, a crowdsourced platform used by over 900 operators globally.

“Artificial intelligence is an important tool to prevent text message scams and robocalls from reaching the public. Unfortunately, AI is also a powerful tool that can be used by criminal actors, as their methods of attack grow more sophisticated and more damaging. The international telecoms community must come together and work with regulators and governments to find a solution that respects people’s privacy, and ultimately keeps them safe from scams.”

Speaking at Capacity Europe this week, Gonzalez told the conference on Tuesday that the work of the ITW Global Leaders' Forum to prevent fraud needs to extend beyond voice. On Monday, the Forum published the names of the organisations that have been confirmed as being compliant with the GLF Code of Conduct (CoC) on fraud.

Meanwhile, in the US this week, the FCC has proposed a new set of rules that would require mobile carriers to block illegal text messaging, building on the agency’s ongoing work to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls at the network level.

FCC acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said: “In a world where so many of us rely heavily on texting to stay connected with our friends and family, ensuring the integrity of this communication is vitally important.

“We’ve seen a rise in scammers trying to take advantage of our trust of text messages by sending bogus robotexts that try to trick consumers to share sensitive information or click on malicious links. It’s time we take steps to confront this latest wave of fraud and identify how mobile carriers can block these automated messages before they have the opportunity to cause any harm.”

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