UK communications regulator proposes further measures to tackle spoofing

UK communications regulator Ofcom expects phone providers to block more calls with spoofed numbers.

Ofcom has proposed strengthening its guidance on how phone providers should identify and block calls from abroad that falsely use UK numbers or a non-geographical telephone number as their screen “Presentation Number”. 

“Scam calls can cause significant financial and emotional harm to their victims. They can also damage trust in phone calls,” said Ofcom.

Ofcom said this update should remove a loophole through which scammers can spoof a UK number from abroad (making it look like the call is coming from a UK-based organization) and connect these calls to UK users.

“Scam calls can cause significant financial and emotional harm to their victims.”


A common tactic used by fraudsters based abroad is to spoof UK caller IDs from legitimate organizations such as banks, knowing people are more likely to answer than if an unknown international number is displayed.

This consultation follows Ofcom’s strengthened rules and guidance issued in November 2022 to require all landline and mobile network providers to block spoofed calls if “technically feasible”.

New Ofcom enforcement program

In order to make sure phone providers abide by these revised rules, Ofcom has announced a new enforcement program. This will focus on identifying individual telecoms providers that allow scam and spoofed voice calls to enter the UK’s telephony system, and taking action against them. The program is set to run between 12 to 18 months, and potential breaches could lead to formal investigations.

This is in line with the UK government’s new fraud strategy which aims to stop fraud at source and pursue those responsible. It’s ambition is to reduce fraud by 10% by 2025. 

In response to Ofcom’s proposals, Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy said: “Number spoofing is a common tactic used by fraudsters to con victims into parting with their hard-earned cash. While this is an encouraging step, Ofcom must ensure telecoms providers do more to prevent fraudsters reaching their consumers. 

“Government and regulators should not hesitate to go further by plugging the gaps in fraud prevention within the telecoms, online advertising and domain sectors, making it harder for fraudsters to reach potential victims.”

Concha added: “The onus shouldn’t fall on consumers to protect themselves, but it is important they are made aware of how they can spot scams.”

Ofcom’s consultation closes on March 28, 2024.