Ofcom Rallies Troops in War on Caller ID Spoofing


21st October 2013 brought good news for all phone-owners as British regulator Ofcom joined forces with international regulators in the UK, USA and Canada to crack down on ’spoof‘ callers.

Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be working with the US’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). This new task force aims to share international resources and knowledge to tackle nuisance callers‘ stranglehold over phonelines the world over.

Spoof calling, for those unfamiliar with the term, involves using a nifty bit of software to mask the number you’re actually calling from, in order to prevent the recipients of your calls being able to locate you, or call you back. This is of course, infuriating for those of us badgered incessantly by anonymous callers. What’s even more infuriating is that whilst some spoofers use gobbledegook numbers instead of their own, others have really taken the biscuit and tactically use well-known organisations‘ digits to execute some quite remarkable conning manoeuvres.

Whilst spoofing has been happening for years, the people behind it are becoming ever more audacious. Regular spoofing will be something along the lines of what user Steven reports about number 01164465587:

SILENT CALL and if you try and call it back it is unrecognised. Looks like a scam or a spoof. The BT 1471 read this number correctly but it is duff.

Commenting on number 01618149908, user Dawn mentions another standard spoofing tactic: hiding a phone number with a bad reputation and using an as yet ‚clean‘ one so you aren’t forewarned when the phone rings.

just so people know,,,,DRD ALSO CONTACT YOU USING THIS NUMBER ,,,,07734953850,, i have found out that this is a „SPOOF“ number they are used by tele marketing to make them seem legitimate number calling you 

If you’ve been called by 000-000-0000 (or another unlikely-looking number), it’s highly probable that the caller was using spoofing technology. Difficulty in tracking down spoofing culprits is increased thousandfold by the fact that the origin of the call is completely untraceable. Without an area code, there is generally no way of discerning where or who a call has come from. This means that internationally-placed spoof calls are becoming increasingly common: hence the transatlantic team-up.

The joint statement from the six organisations, published on the ICO’s website, avers that they

will work together to share information and target organizations responsible for spoofing.

The member organisations will pool resources, share information and work in collaboration with telecommunications industries in their respective countries to target and reprimand offending organisations. Guidelines on what constitutes ‚misuse‘ of the spoofing technique are also being reconsidered, revised and made much clearer, with a view to introducing tougher punitive measures: monetary penalties of up to £500,000 are being considered for foul-players.

In the UK, US and Canada, all telemarketers are legally obliged to identify themselves, meaning that spoofing, and also number-concealment, are against the law. Always be on your guard with unknown callers and watch out for the warning signs: are they trying to weasel information out of you, personal or otherwise? If they claim to be calling on behalf of a service you use, ask yourself if this is how they normally contact you. Try to call back on the official company number if you’re in any doubt at all and never respond to threats or implausible claims.

Take care and have a great week!

Your tellows team

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  1. #1 von jon anderson - 9. Dezember 2014 zu 13:46

    Hi

    Is it legal for companies to use spoofing in the UK to have customers answer calls they’d usually ignore?

    I’ve been getting hassled by a utlilities company who I’ve instructed to only contact me via email (due to the nature of my business, I’m not always available to take calls from them) which has been ignored and they appear to be maliciously calling me at hours I’ve already instructed them not too using numbers that aren’t theirs (their office is based in London and I regualrly get early AM calls from them from local numbers in Scotland beginning (0141, 01255 etc) despite them not having offices in my region.

    Is this legal?

    Thanks

    Jon

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