Ofcom Moves Against Phantom Calls

UK regulator Ofcom took action against scam calls and imposed new rules to cap the cost of calling phone numbers starting with 070.

The watchdog announced in a statement that the new wholesale price cap of calling 070 numbers is now aligned with the maximum charge for calls to mobile numbers, currently around 0.5 pence per minute.

Before the new regulation, any company controlling an 070 number could charge the caller’s phone company a wholesale price of as much as 39 pence per minute, and phone providers charged between 45 pence and £1.10 (US$1.35)per minute for calls to ‘070’ numbers.

Ofcom explained 070 numbers are designed to be used as a ‘follow me’ service, where calls are diverted from one number to another, so the person being called can keep their own number private.

Numbers starting with 070 are often used in classified adverts or by small businesses and making calls to such numbers costs more than phoning mobile numbers.

However, it is common for users to take 070 numbers as mobile numbers, which begin with 07, which has created an open door for scams and fake calls. This has led to higher consumer phone bills.

“We uncovered evidence of scams, such as missed calls and fake job adverts, that took advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness of these high prices. An estimated minimum of 20 per cent of 070 calls involved some form of fraudulent activity”, Ofcom said.

The regulator believes the new pricing cap will remove the incentive for scams by “significantly cutting the money that can be made from using these numbers”.

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