The UK telecommunications regulator is warning the public not to trust caller ID on their phones as it tries to help prevent people from becoming victims of fraud.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 piggy bank, Ofcom director Huw Saunders said caller ID should not be used as a way to verify a caller ID.
Fraudsters are increasingly changing their caller ID to disguise their identity, which is known as number spoofing.
“This problem is global in scope,” says Saunders.
“It’s an unfortunate place, but the same message is being conveyed by our counterparts in the United States, Canada, France, Australia and elsewhere.
However, he admits that the UK is behind other countries, like the US for example, in tackling the problem.
“They [the US] are ahead of the UK, but it’s not a problem that can be resolved overnight.
“It’s going to take a few years. If you look at a comparable situation in France, for example, they now have a timeline for implementing a particular technical solution and that’s over a three-year period.”
In the UK, the current telephone network (Public Switched Telephone Network) is being upgraded to a new system – Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.
Mr Saunders said that when VoIP is fully in place, with a target date of 2025, the industry will be able to stop number spoofing.
“It’s only when the vast majority of people are using new technology (VOIP) that we can roll out a new patch to fix this problem. [of spoofing]. “
Despite other attempts by the telecommunications industry to end identity theft, a recent report by industry body UK Finance suggested that the number of reported cases of identity theft fraud – y including fraudulent calls – almost doubled last year to 40,000.
However, the actual figure will likely be much higher, as many victims will not report the fraud to their bank or the building society, or even to their family or friends, due to feelings of embarrassment or guilt.
Each case can involve the theft of thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds, leaving the financial and emotional lives of the victims ruined.
What is number spoofing?
Ofcom describes number spoofing as people who deliberately change the phone number and relayed name as caller ID information.
Ope Oladejo, a 21-year-old law student, was robbed of nearly £ 2,000 last summer – money she had saved working as a caregiver to help pay for a law course.
“The number spoofing was the most important part [of the deception]She told the BBC.
“At first I was a little skeptical … but they said: ‘Check the number [we’re calling you on] on the back of your card ”.
“I checked and it matched and that’s where I let my guard down completely.”
Because the criminals convinced Ope that she was talking to her bank, they were able to get key details and information from her, which allowed them to steal the money.
Fortunately, the money was refunded by OPE’s bank and she was able to continue her education, but she says the incident hit her hard.
“Emotionally it just made me really sad, I cried a lot about it,” she says.
“Financially I think it made me smarter… I basically ignore any phone calls that I haven’t recorded because they might be a travesty.”
You can hear more about this BBC Radio 4 piggy bank story by listening again here.