Still Relying on Caller ID? OFCOM Says It’s Time to Stop

Caller ID is one of those popular phone features that we all seem to use or need at one time or another. It’s handy to know who’s getting in touch, especially when we want to make sure that we’re not falling prey to any kind of scams or prank calls. However, it seems that caller […]

Caller ID is one of those popular phone features that we all seem to use or need at one time or another. It’s handy to know who’s getting in touch, especially when we want to make sure that we’re not falling prey to any kind of scams or prank calls. However, it seems that caller ID is actually one of the latest avenues for modern phone scammers to try and steal your confidence.

In fact, OFCOM recently advised – via interview with BBC Radio 4 – that they are now actively informing UK homephone users to avoid trusting caller ID at all in future. This is a huge blow for millions of people who have been using the service for years – why is this now such a taboo, and what will it mean for all of us who screen calls in future?

The Latest Phone Scams

Unfortunately, it’s all to do with sophisticated phone scamming. Specifically, it seems that the latest in scamming technology is allowing less than scrupulous callers to hide behind numbers that aren’t actually their own.

Therefore, when you see a number pop up on caller ID that appears to be one you recognise, that might not actually be the case. It may be that a scammer is using a prefix or number that’s similar to a service number such as a bank or building society, for example. They may even use local numbers to try and trick people into thinking it’s local people who are calling.

Huw Saunders, an OFCOM director who spoke to BBC Radio 4 regarding the issue, advises this is a problem that reverberates all over the world. “The problem is global in its scope,” he says.

What’s Being Done to Stop The Scams?

This type of telephone scam, known as spoofing, is likely to continue for as long as the UK is registered to the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN. However, the network is due to get replaced by VoIP – Voice Over Internet Protocol – by mid-decade. 

That means phone users across the UK are going to be at risk of scammer attention until at least 2025.

“It’s going to take a few years,” says Saunders.

“It’s only when the vast majority of people are on the new technology that we can implement a new patch to address this problem.”

Spoofing is now a serious problem that’s growing to epic proportions. It’s thought that more than 40,000 cases were reported in 2020 alone, at a time when many people felt vulnerable restricted at home.

This figure, even scarier, is said to be double that which transpired back in 2019 – meaning that this is very much an issue that’s on the rise. That’s likely to unnerve anyone who has used caller Id to ensure their safety over unwanted calling for so many years.

Number Spoofing is a Scam You Can Avoid!

However, there’s no need to panic just yet. VoIP is already here to a huge extent, and by mid-decade, the current trends for spoofing and caller ID fraud will be far behind us. For now, however, OFCOM advises that you simply need to be vigilant.

That means being very careful with caller ID. One of the top tips we can give you is to make sure you always save the numbers you receive calls from most in your phonebook if you have a digital option on your handset. If you don’t, you must make sure you keep clear notes of all your favourite numbers to hand – and don’t take any calls by chance.

In fact, one of the best things you can do to fight against spoofing is to make sure you have voicemail set up, and to ensure that you always screen your calls. 

If it is a legitimate caller and they leave you a voicemail message, you can then call back the number you have saved or written down for them. By calling them back directly, you know that you are always dealing with the legitimate source.

There is also the fact that a genuine call – one which really matters, too – will always arrive with a voicemail if it is important. Many scammers don’t leave voicemails – but simply picking up the phone also advises spoofers and scammers that you are on an active line, and that opens the door for further scamming later down the line.

Is It The End for Caller ID?

It certainly doesn’t mean the end for caller ID – if you have phone numbers you know and trust saved in your digital phonebook, for example, it’s well worth retaining the service so you know who’s trying to get in touch.

However, it does mean that it’s the end of caller ID as we know it, and that VoIP will bring with it a new, safer standard to protect against spoofing scams.

It is another clear indication, too, that PSTN is on the way out – it has served us all well for decades, but technology is moving on. In the name of keeping safe from scams – where you could lose thousands of pounds if you are not careful – it surely makes sense to switch to VoIP for greater protection.

VoIP is well on the way – and at Capital Telecom, we are already provisioning the service for thousands of people. However, it’s so important to keep your wits about you!

Never answer a phone call if you are unsure of where it is coming from. Simply screen your calls if you are unsure – this means letting them dial out, and you picking up a voicemail or calling a legitimate number back if you want to follow it up.

Otherwise, you may find yourself on the wrong end of a scam – one that can be easily avoided – and that could mean a huge financial expense.

There’s no need to do away with caller ID yet – but be careful, as you never know who might be trying to intercept your communications!

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