Singapore’s authorities have announced a simple improvement that should hopefully make it easier for mobile phone users to identify when an incoming call is from a fraudster. The Straits Times reports that all inbound international calls will be displayed on the recipient’s phone screen with a leading ‘+’ symbol from April 15th. Meanwhile, telcos will no longer display ‘+65’, signifying Singapore’s country code, if the call originated within the country.
Singapore’s telcos will also be expected to block numbers which are commonly spoofed, including 999 and 995. Official statistics indicate that phone impersonation scams rank amongst the most common frauds in Singapore, having risen in frequency by 50 percent between 2018 and 2019. Such a scam might take the form of a criminal demanding the payment of a bogus fine whilst pretending to be a police officer in mainland China.
Impersonation scams are clearly on the rise worldwide. This has been fueled by the decreasing cost of making an international call. Scammers prey upon victims in other countries whilst hoping the local authorities have little incentive to pursue them.
Spoofing of the originating phone number increases the likelihood that a victim will be fooled into believing a call is genuine. Various methods have been proposed to tackle the spoofing of caller IDs. However, none have yet received widespread international support.