There are steps we can take to protect ourselves from scams, or to report them if we fall victim to one.
But what technical solutions are available to help us deal with the threat posed by scammers?
There are measures in place that help to reduce the risk of scams.
For mobile phone users, measures can be applied either on your handset or on your mobile phone network to reduce the risk posed by scam messages or malware. Some of these might be pre-installed or managed by your network provider, and some you can put in place yourself.
If you’re unsure whether these solutions are available to you, or to find out more about how they work, you should contact your mobile or home phone provider in the first instance. They should be able to give you more information on what technical measures can be put in place to protect you.
Tackling scam calls
When it comes to unwanted calls on your home phone or mobile, there are technical measures that could help.
- Identifying and blocking calls with invalid numbers
Under Ofcom rules, providers are required to identify calls which have invalid or non-dialable numbers as their caller IDs and block these calls.
- Call blocking
Some home phone handsets may have call-blocking technology pre-installed or you can buy a call blocking device which can be connected to your landline.
- Call screening
Some telecoms firms offer call-screening services for their home phone customers. You need to ask to be opted in for these services, however, so ask your provider if this is something available to you.
- Mobile apps
There are apps that help users to identify and filter the calls they receive on their mobile. Some of these apps come pre-installed on mobile handsets, depending on the manufacturer. Other apps can be downloaded by the mobile phone user from their app store. The process for installing these will differ based on your phone and its manufacturer; see the user manual for more information.
Tackling scam messages
On your mobile handset
- Antispam protection built into the messaging app
Some phones have messaging apps which can automatically send malicious messages to a junk folder.
- Anti-malware apps
Apps like these sometimes come pre-installed on your handset; others you might need to install yourself. For Android users, Play Protect is enabled by default on most Android devices, warning users if they attempt to download fraudulent apps. This isn’t as much of an issue for Apple devices as they do not permit the installation of apps outside their App Store.
- Browser protection
Browser protection services, such as Google Safe Browsing and Microsoft Defender, warn users when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files on the Chrome or Firefox browsers.
On the mobile network, managed by your network provider
- Network diagnostics
Network diagnostics tools help to spot suspicious activity, for example if a high volume of SMS messages is being sent by a specific phone number within a certain time period.
- Caps on free texts
Some mobile phone networks place caps on the number of unlimited free SMS messages that are included with text bundles, since this is a method sometimes used by scammers to send lots of messages to potential victims.
- Blocking suspicious websites
Some providers block access to suspicious or fraudulent websites to protect their customers.
Source: Office of Communications (Ofcom)
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