United Kingdom telecoms regulator Ofcom will join forces with regulators in the US and Canada in a bid to tackle the growing issue of spoofing, according to a press release.
Spoofing is a method used by companies to disguise their phone number when making calls. There are many reasons why a company would indulge in spoofing and many do it to give the person answering the phone the impression that the call is being made from a different number.
Two reasons would be to disguise a number behind a local code to encourage the person to answer or to give the impression the call is coming from a number that the user would normally wish to answer. There are many legitimate reasons for spoofing such as a company employee calling from their mobile who would like to give the impression that they are calling from an office.
However, as always with this type of technology, there are others who would use it for fraudulent reasons and for illegal self-gain.
One of the reasons is the very popular “Microsoft scam” which was used by unscrupulous individuals to call people, pretending to be from Microsoft. Victims then answer the phone, believe the call to be legitimate and are duped into paying a fee to fix their computer.
In 2010, spoofing was made illegal in the US and in the UK. There are strict laws regarding who can and can’t do it.
Ofcom said “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.”
The sharing of intelligence and the “combination of resources” on both sides of the Atlantic is likely to yield far better results than either working alone. In a statement 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.”
While the act of spoofing may be illegal in the US, there are numerous companies offering the service in the UK. Therefore, it would appear that the priority is different in the UK to that of the US, while the US are trying to stamp it out altogether, the UK looks to stop those who are exploiting it for underhanded means, rather than those who are using the service to make the business appear more professional.