Don’t trust caller ID on phones, says Ofcom

The UK telecoms regulator is warning the public not to trust caller ID on their phones as it tries to help stop people becoming victims of fraud.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Money Box, Huw Saunders, a director at Ofcom, says caller ID should not be used as a means of verifying a caller’s identification.

Fraudsters are increasingly changing their caller ID to disguise their identity, known as number spoofing.

“This problem is global in its scope,” says Mr Saunders.

“It’s an unfortunate place to be in, but the same message is being given by our counterparts in the US, Canada, France, Australia and elsewhere.”

However, he admits the UK is behind other countries, such as the US, in tackling the problem.

“They [the US] are ahead of the UK, but that’s not an issue that can be solved overnight.

“It’s going to take a few years. If you look at a comparable situation in France, for example, they now have a timetable for the implementation of a particular technical solution and that is over a three-year period.”

In the UK, the current phone network (Public Switched Telephone Network) is being updated to a new system – Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.

Mr Saunders says when VOIP is fully in place, with a target date of the end 2025, the industry will be able to stop number spoofing.

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