Intelligent Solutions

Protecting your customers from fraud

Simon Woodhead

Simon Woodhead

4th October 2022

By Simon Woodhead

It has been a week or so since we updated you on our plans for blocking inbound and outbound calls according to Ofcom’s DNO list. I wanted to circle back and look at the impact those changes have made.

We’ve not had an outbound breach by a wholesale customer in over a week, and looking back through those we did have, they were mostly relating to call forwarding from our customers’ platforms or indeed end-users – forwarding calls from DNO numbers.

On inbound it is a different story. Remember, we’re blocking these inbound calls across the whole network to protect your customers. We had a choice – we could let these calls through and levy dirty origin surcharges on peers, or we could block them. Allowing the calls to complete would have apparently been pretty lucrative and seems to be the route others are taking – nobody else is blocking this inbound tsunami as far as we know. Instead, we were guided by our affection for end-users and did what we think is the right thing. This is a no-cost no-choice feature across the network.

In that same week we’ve dropped tens of thousands of attempted fraudulent calls to active numbers on the network; that’s tens of thousands of calls probably attempting to defraud your customers. Uniquely, neither you nor they know about them, because they don’t get beyond us. What value do you put on one of your customers having their bank account taken over or being scammed some other way? It has to be hundreds of Pounds, if not thousands. That means the benefit to society could be in the millions if not tens of millions; in a week!

They don’t get a lot right, but fair play to Ofcom for this initiative which is to be commended and has tangible societal impact. However, and there has to be a however, why are we the only ones in the marketplace doing this? It isn’t just that we’re the only ones blocking this inbound either. Telecoms is a zero sum game – for every inbound call, there has to be an outbound call somewhere. So every one of the tens of thousands of inbound attempts we’ve blocked this week, are tens of thousands of outbound calls that someone else has allowed through, probably to pocket a few thousandths of a penny with no regard for the stress to the little old lady scammed for thousands of Pounds at the other end. 

Ofcom say on the DNO page that: 

“Currently, not all providers apply the DNO list. Further, where providers are using the list, technical telephony constraints may mean that a small number of calls are still connected.”

I’d like to challenge that assertion because we know who we’re seeing these calls from and we know where we’re seeing these calls. I’d throw down a gauntlet to Ofcom to use their statutory information gathering powers to determine:

  1. How many fraudulent outbound calls has every operator actually blocked
  2. How many fraudulent inbound calls has every operator blocked, and who from.

I’d wager that the largest networks in the country are doing little to nothing to block these and these enquiries would demonstrate it from both sides. They could even put up a little dashboard with the results – this’d be one ‘marking of one’s own homework’ we think would be beneficial.

I’d encourage all our customers to bang the drum about this unique protection feature to your own end-users but also encourage peers to replicate it. It can make a massive difference to protecting your end-users and play a huge part in restoring trust in telephony. If we’ve made this difference in a week, imagine what the whole industry can do in a year.

Also vote with your feet to the extent you’re not using Simwood – do you want to keep subsidising others with dirty origin surcharges whilst they do nothing to protect your customers, or worse, actively participate in their harm for profit? What more do they have to do to undermine your trust and indeed your reputation? 

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: integrity matters.

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