/ Technology

We need action to cut off fake phone numbers

We know you hate nuisance calls. But there’s another twist in this modern day menace – ‘spoofed calls’. Ofcom estimates as many as two billion nuisance calls are made each year using fake numbers…

You know what it’s like; you’re sat by your phone waiting for an important call, when it suddenly rings. You look down and see it’s withheld number. You answer just in case. And then the automated voice kicks in telling you you’ve been in an accident.

In recent weeks I’ve been touring the country talking to the public about their experiences of nuisance calls and meeting politicians to discuss how we can tackle the problem. The one thing I heard time and again was, ‘so many of them don’t show a number, so I’ve just stopped answering them’.

Watch out for number spoofing

But now there’s another trick that companies are using to get you to answer you phone – they’re ‘spoofing’ numbers. Call centres are using software to fool your phone’s caller ID system to hide their real identity. This means they can make it look like they’re calling from another number, including from a local area code.

This isn’t always done for devious reasons – some companies display a freephone number so you can call them back without being charged. However, the number of nuisance calls using spoofing technology is rising, with Ofcom estimating that as many as two billion nuisance calls are made using fake numbers each and every year. And the real kicker is that this allows nuisance calling companies to bypass the call blocking device you might have bought.

Government must keep its promises

While it’s illegal for companies to spoof numbers, with fines of up to £2m, it’s so far been difficult for the regulator to prosecute anyone.

That’s why we want the Government to keep its promises on making firms give valid numbers when making outbound marketing calls. Not only will this help you decide whether to answer the phone, it will make it easier to report unwanted calls.

Have you ever had a phone call from a local area code only for it to be a nuisance caller at the end of the line?


Determination allows you to overcome all sorts of setbacks/oppositions in life call it perseverance as the Indian Chief answered the President when his people were killed ,his food shot dead for sport , moved onto desert reservations with little water and virtually no grass
cheated by US government agents , treated like African Americans , sold into slavery, his women r**** his children used as servants and still he carried on believing in his heart that human beings cant all be cruel.

Stopping nuisance calls John – “cant be done ” -right ?
Guess what ? as usual the US government is on the side of US citizens –out ONE day -read from the FCC-

I have more detailed info on this its just one method of doing it.

I agree that is one possible way of dealing with the diversion of calls to reassigned numbers. It could lessen the impact of robo-calls, but it doesn’t deal with the main issue in the UK of nuisance calls set up by an agent who then tries to sell something, procure personal data, or take-over the computer.

I see Bill’s proposal as a more strategic approach because it turns the call back if the caller doesn’t own the line number being presented and makes the perpetrator pay for it [that’s if I have understood his proposal correctly].

It’s a remarkably ineffectual series of proposals. ” PROPOS(ed) MEASURES TO REDUCE UNWANTED ROBOCALLS” doesn’t sound like the sort of concrete measure we need. But then, what more could we expect from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai who deftly presided over the demise of net neutrality regulations in the US.

While a ‘ reassigned number database.’ might have some effect it seems clear that the US are as stymied as we appear to be in the face of determined spammers.

So it seems John is right: stopping all nuisance calls – at least prior to the person or machine making the call – is impossible.

Prior to the person making the call ?
You mean making the call don’t you Ian, as even at their best the US government isn’t fully Physic or should I say sane when it comes to policy outside its borders.

But don’t you know that could be stopped but wont be for the very same reasons as our government wont stop it .
By closing down all the businesses selling the means of doing it as they buy in bulk numbering using VOIP , I have already mentioned twice on this website that I have the URL,s for 2 USA websites —Legally selling (at present ) this service.
It would not stop hacking but it would stop automatic bulk number dialing but they wont stop it because businesses use the same system.
As far as I know one town in England has been connected to BT,s VOIP dialing but BT (strangely ) has not told the inhabitants.

I have seen nothing to convince me that every potential spam call can be intercepted prior to the ‘phone ringing in the house of the intended target. Of course there are ways of limiting the effect but the one truism the bad guys live by is that crime will always find a way (apologies to James Blish).

FIRST OF ALL – yes to me your heavily accented wording is shouting to me and I don’t like “proclamations from above ” being directed at me .
Are you understanding what I said as you continually-unceasingly post the wrong conclusions to what I post ??

I am totally at awe in your transposing/transpositioning of posts I post into something the exact opposite its something a (not ) so good propagandist does (amateurish ) .

I know you use “speed reading (obviously ) Ian as a local councilor did when I was on the community council .
Just to get it straight in your head ——-since I came to this website I have continually-unceasingly- without end said BT couldn’t afford to fibre to the premises/home 100 % of the UK . You obviously didn’t read that long summery of the UK network position of tech UK -circa -2018 —
it AGREED with me , so if experts AGREE with me I must be doing something right as it took them years to come to the SAME conclusion I came to on this website years ago.

But all you do is nit-pick -, look at the bigger picture Ian the Tory dogma on this issue is no longer working as all its “favorites ” who petition it refused to do the last 10 % or so because of—-guess — NO profit and I said that would happen too a long time ago.

This conversation is about nuisance calls, not the superfast broadband roll-out.

Yeah that.

My 84 year old mum is targeted regularly by spoofed numbers, from “there’s a virus on your computer” to “it Amazon and you owe us money”. The line provider has a moral obligation to do more here. They unleashed the ability to make spoof calls and its their network that’s being exploited by criminal gangs. They should provide an option to block all spoofed calls!!

On the internet we have http sites and https sites. Https sites are regulated and generally trustworthy. Why can’t we do the same with phone numbers?

No, they’re not, James; that’s not how the system works. The principal motivations for HTTPS are authentication of the accessed website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data while in transit. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks.

But it has a number of flaws, so many in fact, that Browser makers are attempting to introduce a better system. We know, for example, that many connections between you and an HTTPS site are intercepted. I could go into how you tell this, but suffice to know that it’s not a secure system.

It also relies heavily on signed certificates, which are often allowed to lapse.

So make bonafide users of spoofed numbers use certificates. No valid certificate: no ability to spoof on the BT network.

James, until such time as that technology get built-in to “oven-ready” telephone networks, a lot of householders are opting to invest in their own call blocking technology.

Earlier this week, I was surprised to see that this is even sold by my local B&Q (see:-https://www.diy.com/departments/cpr-grey-corded-nuisance-call-blocker/578065_BQ.prd ). More sophisticated / complicated products are also available (e.g.:-https://www.cprcallblocker.com/pages/instruction-manuals and:-https://btplc.com/inclusion/ProductsAndServices/Choosetherightphone/BT8600AdvancedCallBlocker/index.htm ).

Yesterday, I had to cold call someone who has invested in such kit. Thankfully my call was duly screened but not blocked, so they did eventually call me back.