Since this scam came to light, telecoms providers have come under pressure to quickly terminate calls when the recipient puts down the phone. Currently, if you phone some two-thirds of BT numbers you can remain on the line for several minutes, even if the person taking the call has put down the handset.
This has allows the scam to succeed. The victim hears a fake dialling tone, and calls what they think is their bank. Ofcom says its has been working with the industry to tackle the problem. The telecoms regulator says TalkTalk reduced the disconnect time to two seconds on its network in September 2013. Sky did the same in June this year.
BT has so far reduced the times to a maximum of 10 seconds for around 6 million customers on its network representing a third of BT’s local exchanges.
Ofcom expects the remaining exchanges, which are more complicated to change, to take up to year to upgrade. Virgin Media hopes to cut the time to two seconds for 50% of customers by the end of September. The other half could take a year or more.
A spokesperson says: “Ofcom remains committed to working closely with the police, and landline and mobile providers, to ensure that necessary changes to telephone networks and systems are made as quickly as possible. We have been absolutely clear in our dealings with providers that they have a very important role in protecting their customers from fraudulent activity and that this work must be prioritised.”
But clearly not a role that might cost them much money in the form of capital expenditure.