Ofcom has urged the UK public to be vigilant about “number spoofing” scams that change a person’s Caller ID to trick unsuspecting victims into handing over personal details.
The telecoms regulator says that there has been a rising number of fraudulent phone calls in the UK, where scammers change the telephone number and name that is displayed before a recipient answers a call on a smartphone.
The system, which is known as Caller ID, is supposed to help people by letting them know that friends, family and other saved contacts are getting in touch.
However, it is now being manipulated by fraudsters, and there are a growing number of victims who reveal financial details and later lose money.
Speaking to the BBC, 21-year-old student Ope Oladejo said that she lost nearly £2,000 after giving information to a caller that she believed was her bank.
Ofcom director Huw Saunders said that number spoofing is a global problem but that the UK is falling behind other countries in its efforts to tackle it.
One issue is the ongoing switchover to a new Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system that is not set to be completed fully until late 2025.
“It’s only when the vast majority of people are on the new technology (VOIP) that we can implement a new patch to address this problem [of spoofing],” Saunders added.
A report by UK Finance found that spoof calls and other forms of impersonation fraud soared to 40,000 in 2020, but the actual figure is likely to be far higher.