New Ofcom rules lead to major drop in '070' fraud calls

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The volume of scam calls made using ‘070’ numbers in the UK has fallen by two thirds following the introduction of wholesale price caps, according to new figures from BICS.

The 070 range has proved popular with fraudsters because such numbers are usually reserved for mobile phones. This means the public can be easily tricked into thinking a dodgy phone number is genuine but is instead much more expensive to call.

To combat this threat, Ofcom ensured the wholesale price cap for ‘070’ numbers was the same as that imposed on mobile numbers - currently around 0.5p a minute.

Scam calls

Prior to the new regulations last October, it was estimated that a fifth of all calls to 070 numbers involved some sort of fraudulent activity. However, the action has made the method a much less attractive target for scammers.

BICS, a subsidiary of Belgian telco Proximus, says its FraudGuard platform analyses traffic from more than 900 communications providers around the world and found the number of scam calls had fallen by 10 million over the past 12 months.

However, it has warned that fraudsters have switched to other methods that cost the telecoms industry nearly €30 billion a year.

“Ofcom’s regulation is a brilliant step forwards and will hopefully inspire other regulators to adopt similar rules,” said Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud Prevention, BICS. 

“However, fraudsters will always look for new ways to steal money. It is therefore essential that operators take a proactive and collaborative approach to fighting fraud. Knowledge sharing is one of the most powerful weapons in operators’ armoury and helps the industry to pool resources and unite against a common enemy.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.