Vodafone UK Promises to Block Wangiri Calls

Vodafone UK has announced they will proactively block calls that originate from numbers known to be used by wangiri fraudsters. Their statement said:

Vodafone already blocks customers from unwittingly calling back Wangiri numbers where possible and reimburses any victim who has incurred a charge. We have now deployed new technology to prevent all identified Wangiri numbers from reaching our customers in the first place.

This is a positive step, though it begs two questions:

  • How complete is the data used to ‘identify’ wangiri numbers? One of the weaknesses when implementing a blacklist is that fraudsters change more quickly than the list used to obstruct them.
  • What safeguards are in place to prevent blacklisting of legitimate numbers?

Last year rival operator Three announced it was “taking the necessary measures to protect and maintain security on its network, by, for example, proactively looking for patterns to Wangiri, and taking action to protect its customers, where possible.” Though that statement contains lots of caveats it is indicative of a trend where telcos seek to reassure customers that everything is being done (where possible) to protect them from crime.

Telcos are making more of an effort to advise customers about frauds that might target them. They are also sending a signal that they work on behalf of customers to protect them from fraud. With this in mind, the industry needs to revisit old benchmarks it uses to compare the amount of fraud it suffers, by starting to measure and manage the amount of fraud that customers suffer. Only then will we know if the preventative steps being taken by telcos like Vodafone and Three are generating the promised results.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.