Fraud is one of the major issues facing the telecommunications industry today, with criminals finding new ways to take advantage of operators and consumers. Read on for the latest on fraudulent activity within the sector and what you should look out for.
Telecom threats: Current trends and figures
The uncertainty caused by recent world events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine has been exploited by fraudsters. A poll from last year found that three quarters of communication providers were affected by fraud and over half agreed that there was an upsurge in security threats. The war in Ukraine has led to a rise in fake charities and websites designed to lure the consumer into making donations.
The industry regulator Ofcom recently found that 82% of adults, or an estimated 44.6 million people, had received a suspicious message in the last 3 months. Typically, these take the form of text messages and are predominantly targeted at 16–34 year olds. For older generations, calls to landlines and mobiles were the most common method of fraud, with 61% of those surveyed saying it had happened to them.
Many of us have already become aware of the tell-tale signs of these scams and this is reflected in the numbers, with only 2% of those who’d received a dodgy call or text in the past few months following the fraudster’s instructions. However, this percentage still translates to around a million people affected by the emotional and financial distress such scams can cause.
What is the telecoms industry doing to tackle this?
Most network providers have measures in place to prevent and report scams.
One notable example of recent developments to curb telecoms fraud is EE’s new AI anti-spam software designed to stop scam calls and messages reaching BT, Plusnet and EE customers. The anti-spam firewall is estimated to have prevented 11 million calls since it was rolled out in July. It works by blocking numbers pretending to originate in the UK, used by international fraud networks to try and gain customer’s personal information.
How can you report suspicious calls or texts?
In response to the recent rise in fraud within the industry, Ofcom are making an effort to promote fraud prevention and reporting measures.
Most consumers aren’t aware of the 7726 number for reporting suspicious calls and texts. This number will forward all of the caller’s information to the mobile provider and help to initiate investigations into their activity. Alternatively, consumers are also able to report scammers to Action Fraud in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or to Police Scotland.
BT customers can find information on how to report suspicious activity here: