Labour has made a promise to combat scam calls from overseas and declared their determination to deal a significant blow to those profiting from fraud. Recent research conducted by Ofcom, the communications regulator, indicated that during the summer of 2023 alone, approximately 45 million people had been targeted by potential scam texts or calls.
Home Secretary letter
In a letter addressed to the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, Labour representative Emily Thornberry urged for immediate action to tackle the “fraud epidemic” that has swept across the nation in recent years. According to Labour’s analysis of current trends, since Rishi Sunak and Ms. Braverman pledged to take action on fraud, an estimated 1.5 million offenses have been committed in the span of five months, equating to a staggering 10,000 offenses per day.
Thornberry highlighted that for certain individuals, such as pensioners, this crime is particularly devastating as it destroys their hard-earned life savings. Moreover, she emphasized the audacity of the fraudsters who simply move on to new victims with near total impunity.
Blocking Scam calls
Focusing specifically on scam calls, Thornberry proposes the implementation of stringent controls, suggesting two new rules. The first rule would require that any overseas call made using a UK number must not display that number when it appears on a UK mobile or landline.
The second rule seeks to block overseas calls using a British number unless the network provider confirms that the user is genuinely roaming. In her letter, Thornberry expresses a sense of distress upon witnessing the BBC series ‘Scam Interceptors’, which shed light on the enormity, sophistication, and ruthlessness of the global scamming industry, highlighting its disproportionate targeting of UK households.
She expresses the belief that it may be possible to make it incredibly difficult, or even nearly impossible, for overseas gangs to continue utilizing UK numbers for fraudulent activities. This action, while just one step out of many necessary to combat the fraud crisis in the country, holds the potential to be a crucial one, striking a significant blow against the fraudsters who dominate this industry and providing better protection for millions of people in the UK. Thornberry concludes by inviting the Home Secretary to collaborate with the Labour Party and Ofcom in making this proposed change a reality.
Home Office weighs in
A spokesperson from the Home Office stated that the government is fully dedicated to tackling fraud, actively collaborating with various partners across government, law enforcement, and industry to safeguard the public.
They reveal that the government has committed £400 million over the next three years to bolster law enforcement’s ability to address economic crime and has introduced the Online Safety Bill and the Financial Services and Markets Bill to hamper fraud at its roots and enhance victim reimbursement. To streamline efforts, they also plan to soon release their Fraud Strategy, which outlines a coordinated approach from the government, law enforcement, and the private sector to improve public protection and increase disruption and prosecution of fraudsters.