Following recent reports of scam calling activity, the NZ Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has today released a draft Scam Calling Prevention Code for public consultation, formalising a range of processes in place for the telco industry to deal with instances of scam callers.
“The industry has been working together for several years, sharing information to help prevent instances of scams recurring” says Geoff Thorn, TCF CEO. “The Scam Calling Prevention Code drafted by the TCF reinforces and standardises the processes already in place, to help the industry react more quickly to any incidence of fraud reported by the public, and block calls from numbers used by scammers. The draft code also provides for sharing information with third parties where it is appropriate.”
The code has been developed by the TCF in conjunction with network operators who provide landline and mobile services, including 2degrees, Spark, Symbio Wholesale, TNZI, Vocus and Vodafone. Once in place, it will create a consistent approach to identifying, verifying and blocking scam calls. It’s anticipated to reduce the number of instances of scam calls received by consumers, while minimising the impact of traffic monitoring on legitimate calls.
But Thorn warns the code is not a solution guaranteed to end all instances of scam calling. “Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach” says Thorn. “Often, they have access to personal information obtained through third party sources and may use advanced systems to make it appear as though they are calling from a genuine NZ phone number. The telco industry can only do so much to monitor what phone services are being used for.”
“It’s still up to members of the public to alert their service provider to any suspicious calls. Consumers also need to proceed with caution when receiving calls claiming to be from a telco provider, IT company or Government agency, asking for personal or financial information. We advise against giving access to personal information over the phone in these instances.”
The finalised code is expected to be in force by July 2018.
Acting CEO for Spark Home, Mobile and Business, Grant McBeath says, “The fact that the whole industry has got behind this code is a great step forward. Historically, when we’ve seen scam activity on our network, we’ve lacked a fast and simple way to coordinate between other New Zealand service providers to block scam activity when we see it. This new code puts in place processes and timeframes to quickly tackle scam calling patterns once we’ve identified them and share them amongst other networks for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”
However, as scammers are constantly changing their approach, both in terms of the stories they tell and the technology they use, the expectation is that this will reduce scam volumes, not stop scam calls from occurring.
McBeath explains, “The most effective way to stay safe from scams is still to be vigilant and wary when a call is unexpected. Even if we manage to reduce scam calls significantly through this new partnership, some scam calls will still get through. Ultimately, we need every individual to know what to look out for.”
Because of this, Spark has taken scam prevention a step further for their customers by introducing a range of proactive initiatives that will be rolled out over the next few months. McBeath says, “As technology reaches new levels of sophistication, so do the scams. We want to take a lead in providing our customers with tools that arm them to protect not only themselves but their family and friends.”
The first initiative to launch today is a new webpage that will report up-to-date scam alerts. When new scamming methods are reported to Spark, the webpage will be updated to reflect this new activity. As a result, consumers will be able to view the different tactics a scammer might be using and be aware of the latest characteristics of a scam across both email and phone.