Ofcom has announced it will cap the wholesale cost of connecting 070 calls, to help protect callers from fraud and unexpected call costs.
070 numbers are used as a ‘follow me’ service, where calls are diverted from one number to another. This enables the person being called to keep their own number private.
Classified adverts often use 070 numbers instead of private numbers. This allows small businesses and traders to use them to make it easy to manage calls, even though they are generally a lot more expensive. In addition, Ofcom found there is a problem when 070 numbers are mistaken for mobile numbers, which begin with 07.
Millions of calls are made to 070 numbers, but many people aren’t aware of the high costs of calling them. This can lead to people receiving much higher bills than expected.
So, we’re slashing the wholesale cost of connecting 070 numbers. There’s no reason why phone companies shouldn’t pass this saving on to their customers as soon as possible.- Jonathan Oxley: Competition Group Director, Ofcom
Phone providers currently charge between 45pence and £1.10 per minute for calls to 070 numbers. And with 2.6 million calls to 070 a year, many consumers have been hit with higher bills than they thought they were due. Ofcom is also concerned that these numbers have been used to defraud people.
We have uncovered evidence of scams, such as missed calls and fake job adverts, that take advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness of these high prices. An estimated minimum of 20% of 070 calls involve some form of fraudulent activity.- Press statement: Ofcom
Before the price cap is introduced, Ofcom says providers of 070 numbers may need to change they way they run their businesses, to comply with the new rules. This could include changing their billing systems, contacting their customers prior to the new rules and perhaps even moving to a different number range.
Ofcom believes that if the companies do move to a different number range they would be more familiar to consumers and people would have a better idea of the likely cost of calling them.
To facilitate the move Ofcom has introduced a 12-month implementation period to allow companies to make the necessary changes before the new cap comes into effect.