28 February 2018 In cooperation with number range expert Guy Howie, the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) has issued proposals to change the management of the UK number plan, specifically to reduce fraud caused by confusion by UK telephone numbers beginning 070, and the exploitation of this confusion by unethical businesses.
The opportunity to make positive change has arisen because the UK regulator, Ofcom, is considering proposals to address serious issues with all telephone numbers beginning 070. International surveys have long placed the UK amongst the top ten countries for inbound fraudulent calls and confusion surrounding the 070 range is a major contributor to this problem. Put simply, many confuse 070 numbers with mobile numbers that begin 07, and this leads to exploitation of both UK consumers and businesses abroad.
To their credit, the UK’s regulator, Ofcom, has issued a consultation proposing reform to address this long-standing issue. However, we believe Ofcom’s suggested approach of implementing price controls will fail to address the underlying cause: unless there is a change to the number being dialled, customers will continue to believe they are calling somebody’s mobile phone when dialling 070 numbers. Furthermore, price controls represent a threat to legitimate services provided by businesses that do not encourage fraud. In particular, many NHS hospitals receive revenue from calls made to bedside telephones. Price controls will at least result in reduced income for some hospitals, and may lead to the end of some contracts to provide telephones in hospitals, effectively disconnecting some patients from an important means of contact with their loved ones.
Price controls are a broad brush response to the bad actions of a small group of businesses that deliberately exploit confusion. Research shows that a small number of providers are guilty of providing most of the numbers which are subsequently used for fraudulent purposes.
We asked RAG supporters to comment on Guy’s proposals, and the feedback has been wholly supportive. Feedback came from practitioners both in the UK and abroad, showing this is an issue that leads to both domestic and international fraud, and which is taken seriously by our peers in other countries.
Along with Guy Howie, we will lobby for fundamental changes to the UK national number plan, whilst asking for legitimate businesses to be compensated for the trouble caused by the historic error of placing many non-mobile numbers alongside mobile numbers that begin 07. To read the final wording of our consultation response to Ofcom, and to learn more about the issues, please visit the following page:
About Guy Howie
Guy Howie (pictured) is a leading expert in the specialist field of number plan management, a niche but vital element of global telecommunications. The business he founded, Biaas, has an excellent reputation for helping telecommunications businesses to manage number plans, and so avoid mistakes that impact pricing, assurance, and fraud management. Some of the biggest names in telecoms are customers of Biaas, including BT, Vodafone, MTN and Virgin. Guy volunteered his time to author RAG’s response to the Ofcom 070 consultation.
Notes to Editors
The Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) is dedicated to improving the practice of risk management, business assurance, fraud management and security within the providers of electronic communications services. RAG is a not-for-profit corporation run by experts in the field of risk and assurance within telcos. We seek to facilitate the education and networking of professionals in order to improve standards of performance, reduce waste, and better serve customers. Practitioners may become members and attend our events free of charge; financial support is provided by specialist vendors with an interest in highlighting the importance of the work done in this field, and in expanding its remit.
For more information, please begin by submitting your query through our contact form.