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Ofcom UK Moves to End Abuse of Premium 070 Phone Numbers

Monday, October 1st, 2018 (10:39 am) - Score 3,768
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The UK telecoms regulator has today announced their decision to clamp down on scams that abuse premium rate 070 numbers, which are often mistaken by consumers for mobile numbers (which always begin with ’07’). In response Ofcom will slash the wholesale cost of calling such numbers .

Strictly speaking 070 numbers are designed to be used as a “follow me” service (i.e. where calls are diverted from one number to another, so the person being called can keep their own number private), which makes them useful for things like classified adverts (e.g. those posted by individuals online or in a newspaper) and the call management facilities run by small businesses.

However it’s estimated that 20% of 070 calls (there were 2.6 million to 070s in 2017) involve some form of “fraudulent activity” and these often prey on the aforementioned consumer confusion (e.g. fake missed calls and job adverts). People may thus call such numbers while expecting to pay the same as an ordinary mobile call, but this is a wrong and 070 numbers can attract charges of between 45p and £1.10 per minute!

The Solution to 070 Abuse

Impose new rules to cap the wholesale cost of calling 070 numbers (currently up to 39p per minute). The new 070 wholesale price cap will be aligned with the existing cap set by Ofcom for calls to mobile numbers – currently around 0.5p per minute.

The regulator hopes this will remove the incentive for related scams to abuse such numbers and encourage phone providers to include 070 numbers in free minute allowances, as they currently do for calls to mobiles. Further details can be found here.

Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s Competition Group Director, said:

“Millions of calls are made to 070 numbers, but many people aren’t aware of the high costs of calling them. This can lead to people receiving much higher bills than expected.

So we’re slashing the wholesale cost of connecting 070 numbers. There’s no reason why phone companies shouldn’t pass this saving on to their customers as soon as possible.”

The new measure won’t be enforced until 1st October 2019, which is hardly surprisingly because it represents a significant change for companies that sell or make use of such numbers (they’ll need to contact all their customers and update billing systems etc.). As a result Ofcom is giving them all one year to adapt.

If any companies do move to other number ranges, it will be to ranges that our research suggests are more familiar to consumers, and people would have a better idea of the likely cost of calling them,” said Ofcom. Mind you this overlooks the potential negative impact on end-users (businesses) who could face additional costs due to the admin or lost business involved in updating any public facing contact numbers.

retail_070_number_call_prices_uk_ofcom

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar ofcom

    All Premium Rate numbers should be SCRAPPED immediately. Why wait until next year? Ofcom should be ASHAMED OF THEM THEMSELVES. USELESS OFCOM.

    • Avatar Mike

      But then how will I be able to talk to yo momma on TV?

      /jk

      On a more serious note perhaps instead of banning they could just move high rate 070 to 09 numbers to prevent confusion.

    • I don’t think banning all premium rate numbers is a realistic answer max. A lot of useful services are provided via such numbers, not to mention their use for charitable donations and so forth.

    • Avatar Ian

      Organisations using 070 numbers have the choice to
      – retain the 070 number and pay for the call forwarding charges that are currently paid for by the caller,
      – move to an 03 number and pay for tbe call-forwarding charges,
      – move to a virtual 01 or 02 number and pay for the call-forwarding charges,
      – move to an 080 number and pay for the call-forwarding charges and pay the caller’s phone provider for conveying the call,
      – move to a premium rate 084, 087 or 09 number and earn revenue from the Service Charge which must be declared immediately alongside the number everywhere it is advertised or promoted.

  2. Avatar NE555

    With this change, 070 numbers ought to become a lot more attractive for their original purpose, i.e. a number-for-life which can be redirected to wherever you’re currently reachable.

    However they’re essentially obsolete given there are so many SIP/VOIP services which give you a fixed number and will deliver your call, for free, over the Internet.

  3. Avatar Bob

    Can they ban texts that dont come from a number as well?

    Personally i think ALL marketing calls should be scrapped, or at the very least I should be able to challenge a caller to a duel or fight to the death!

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