22 January 2018 The Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) has engaged the assistance of Guy Howie, an expert in number plan management, to lobby for the correction of an historic regulatory mistake that leads to a disproportionate number of fraudulent calls being made to the United Kingdom. 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. Fraudsters are attracted to the UK market because of the confusion caused by numbers that begin 070, and which are regularly mistaken for mobile phone numbers that begin 07. The 070 range is used for other purposes, such as bedside telephones in hospitals. Unscrupulous businesses exploit the confusion with mobile numbers because they receive a share of revenues when calls are made to expensive 070 numbers that they own.
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.
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.
RAG is calling on anti-fraud professionals to support our lobbying efforts and encourage Ofcom to make necessary fundamental changes to the UK national number plan, whilst compensating businesses for the trouble caused by the historic error of placing many non-mobile numbers alongside mobile numbers that begin 07. We have until February 28th to respond to Ofcom’s consultation, so we welcome feedback on the draft wording prepared by Guy. We also encourage fellow professionals to submit their own response, drawing upon the analysis and the text that RAG has prepared. To learn more about the problems with the UK’s 070 number range and why it causes fraud, and to read Guy’s draft response to the UK 070 regulatory consultation, please visit the following page:
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.
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