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Ofcom to Tackle Number Spoofing

Ofcom today announced it is joining forces with regulators from Canada and the United States to tackle the problem of phone number ‘spoofing’.

Spoofing involves callers hiding their identity by causing a false or invalid phone number to display when making calls. It is a tactic often used by organisations carrying out unsolicited, misleading or even fraudulent telemarketing activities and can increase the harm caused to consumers from nuisance calls.

A ‘spoofed’ number on a call display might be a random series of digits, or even mimic the number of a real company or person who has nothing to do with the real caller.

As a result, consumers can’t return the call to find out who is contacting them or opt out of future direct marketing calls from that organisation. Number spoofing can also make it more difficult for regulators to trace those companies responsible for making nuisance calls.

Coordinated international action

Calls with spoofed numbers can and do come from all over the world and account for a significant and growing proportion of nuisance calls made to consumers in English-speaking countries. International cooperation is therefore vital in addressing this complex problem.

Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, and international regulators from Canada and the United States, today pledged to combine resources, share intelligence and work collaboratively to find solutions to the problem of phone number spoofing. Assistance from the telecommunications industry in each of the four countries will also be sought as part of the initiative.

This work complements Ofcom’s ongoing work to improve call and message tracing processes, as set out in its joint action plan with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: ‘International cooperation is vital in finding effective remedies to the problem of number spoofing. We are thoroughly committed to this joint effort and are determined to put a stop to this harmful practice and take action against those responsible.’

Read our guide on preventing and complaining about nuisance calls.

Ofcom also have an online portal to help consumers register a complaint by directing them to the appropriate UK regulator.