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Ofcom plans crackdown on fake number fraud

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UK operators will make it more difficult for fraudsters to use their networks after plans unveiled today by Ofcom.

The UK regulator says it is proposing a series of measures to strengthen rules and guidance to combat number spoofing.

All telephone networks involved in the transmission of calls will be expected to block numbers that are clearly fake, and this rule will apply to all phone companies, “ensuring the protection applies to millions of people”.

“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,” Huw Saunders, Ofcom’s director of network infrastructure and resilience said.

The regulator says that almost 45 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts last summer alone, with criminals becoming “increasingly sophisticated”.

It adds that nearly a million of these customers followed scammers’ instructions, risking financial loss and emotional distress.

“We’re taking action so phone companies have stronger systems in place to disrupt scams,” Saunders added.  

“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’s new guide sets out expectations for companies to ensure they run ‘know your customer’ checks on business customers.

This involves checking the Companies House register, fraud risk databases and the FCA’s Financial Services Register to uncover information that may indicate high risk misuse.

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