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Phone companies to block scam calls from abroad that are masked behind a UK number

Phone companies have agreed to block the majority of internet phone calls made from abroad where it looks as though the call is coming from a UK number. 

This so-called "number spoofing" tactic is commonly used by fraudsters to encourage the recipient to believe a call is legitimate, which means they are more likely to answer it. But this could then leave them vulnerable to fraud, with scammers using these types of call to try to get hold of financial or personal information. 

The move to crackdown on this type of scam comes after the communications regulator called on phone networks to put measures in place to help stop scam calls. Ofcom says 45 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts over the summer. 

See our 25+ ways to stop scams guide for more info on how you can protect yourself from fraud and what to do if you think you've been affected. 

How the scheme will work in practice  

Under the scheme, both UK mobile and landline providers will block the majority of internet calls from abroad that are masked behind UK numbers. The main exception to this is calls from UK numbers from fraudsters roaming abroad, which won't be blocked given telecoms firms are unlikely to know if these calls are genuine are not.  

Ofcom expects the new measures to be rolled out "as a priority, and at pace", with two networks - O2 and TalkTalk - already having introduced the system. Ofcom wouldn't tell us which other providers are taking part but said all of the major firms have agreed to it. We've put this to the largest telecoms companies and we'll update this story when we know more.   

Consumers don't need to do anything to benefit but it does rely on your mobile and/ or landline provider taking part as it's not compulsory. 

What does Ofcom say?

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's network and communications group director said: "We've been working with telecoms companies to implement technical solutions, including blocking at source, suspicious international calls that are masked by a UK number." 

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