Ofcom issues further crackdown on spoof phonecalls


The updated rules confirm that providers are expected to identify and block calls from abroad that falsely use a UK geographic code

This week, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has moved to reinforce their existing rules around fake phone numbers and scam calls, particularly with regard to Calling Line Identification data.

The new changes are designed to make push service providers to go to greater lengths to prevent scammers from overseas from calling UK numbers while pretending to be from within the UK themselves.

“In this consultation, we are proposing to update our Calling Line Identification (CLI) Guidance to confirm that providers are expected to identify and block calls from abroad that use a UK geographic or non-geographic telephone number as a Presentation Number, except in a limited number of legitimate use cases,” explained Ofcom in a statement.

“This update should remove a loophole through which scammers can spoof a UK number from abroad (making it look like the call is coming from a UK-based organisation) and connect these calls to UK users.”

Some exceptions to these rules are allowed, such as UK mobile users calling home from abroad while roaming on another network, and where overseas traffic has originated from UK customers that are hosted on overseas nodes or cloud services.

Naturally, stopping scam calls is something operators all happy to work towards, but doing so effectively without disrupting legitimate calls can be a challenge.

Ofcom’s consultation on the matter will close on March 28, with the new rules to be formalised some time over the next year.

The new rules will build on those introduced back in 2022, which required all mobile and landline network operators to identify and block spoofed calls where ‘technically feasible’.

To ensure that any updated rules are followed diligently by service providers, Ofcom has also announced a new enforcement programme to look at what is being done to ensure that telephone numbers are being used effectively and efficiently. The programme is expected to last between 12 and 18 months, with formal investigations to follow if providers are believed to be in breach of the new rules.

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