Ofcom Rallies Troops in War on Caller ID Spoofing

21st October 2013 brought good news for all phone-owners as British regulator Ofcom joined forces with international regulators in the UK, USA and Canada to crack down on 'spoof' callers.
By: Tellows UG
Nov. 18, 2013 - PRLog -- Ofcom, and the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), will be working closely with the US's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Canada's Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), forging a new task force that aims to share international resources and knowledge to tackle nuisance callers' stranglehold over phonelines the world over.

Spoof calling, for those unfamiliar with the term, involves using a cunning piece of software to mask the number that's actually making the call, in order to prevent the recipients of these calls from locating the caller, or calling them back. This is of course, infuriating for those badgered incessantly by anonymous callers. More alarmingly, whilst some spoofers simply use invented numbers instead of their own, others tactically use the telephone numbers of well-known organisations to execute some quite remarkable conning manoeuvres.

User Steven reported one of these cases on the tellows website:

SILENT CALL and if you try and call it back it is unrecognised. Looks like a scam or a spoof. The BT 1471 read this number correctly but it is duff.


Another comment, from tellows user Dawn also illustrates how an organisation can 'hide' behind an alternative contact number:

just so people know - DRD ALSO CONTACT YOU USING THIS NUMBER: 07734953850. I have found out that this is a "SPOOF" number. They are used by telemarketing to make it seem like it's a legitimate number calling you


The recent and surprisingly successful spate of 'sheriff-impersonation' in the United States (see the tellows blog http://blog.tellows.com/2013/10/who-spoofed-the-sheriff-audacious-phone-tricksters-use-spoof-technology-to-impersonate-officers-of-the-law/), in which fraudsters swindle their victims by demanding imaginary bail, for example, has acted as a further wake-up call for the authorities.

Calls from 000-000-0000 (or other unconventional-looking numbers), are highly likely to be from callers using spoofing technology. Difficulty in tracking down the culprits is increased infinitely by the fact that the origin of the call is completely untraceable. Without an area code, there is generally no way of discerning where or who a call has come from, meaning that internationally-placed spoof calls are favoured increasingly by fraudsters: hence the transatlantic team-up.

The joint statement from the six organisations, published on the ICO's website, avers that they "will work together to share information and target organizations responsible for spoofing."

The member organisations will pool resources, share information and work in collaboration with telecommunications industries in their respective countries to target and reprimand offending organisations. Guidelines on what constitutes 'misuse' of the spoofing technique are also being reconsidered, revised and made much clearer, with a view to introducing tougher punitive measures: monetary penalties of up to £500,000 are being considered for foul-players.

In the UK, USA and Canada, all telemarketers are legally obliged to identify themselves, meaning that spoofing, and also number-concealment, are against the law. Working together to enforce the laws that demand that marketers identify themselves, it is hoped that the eventual result of this collaboration will be international jurisdiction for law enforcement agencies when it comes to transnational spoof callers.

Further information:


About Tellows: The Tellows anti-spam website is available in over 20 countries in their respective languages, providing a platform upon which users worldwide can share information about fraudulent phone activity, cons and coldcalling. Within this huge online 'database', users can rate and enter comments on numbers. Find us at www.tellows.co.uk and help to protect other users from phone scamming.

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Christian Anton
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Tags:Ofcom, Spoofing, Regulators, Transatlantic, Telecommunications
Industry:Consumer, Telecom
Location:London, Greater - England
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