Code of Practice for Scam Calls 

Telecommunications fraud represents a serious threat to businesses and their customers alike these days and are only becoming more frequent and sophisticated. This type of fraud  really took off as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of Ireland – and especially phone fraud. We, at Westnet, are aware of this and would like to remind you to be vigilant at all times and also give you a few pointers on what to look out for .

Types of Scam Calls

Lately scammers are cloning Irish phone numbers in a bid to make scam calls seem more trustworthy. Previously, most scam calls came from international numbers spread across the world.

The display of a normal-looking number is called number spoofing – a trick that has been used by scammers for the last decade. More recently they have started displaying a number very similar to your own, a practice that is called neighbour spoofing. The reason fraudsters do this is that people are more likely to answer a number similar to their own as it is familiar to them.

The two most common call scams at the moment are:

  1. Vishing – a combination of Voice and Phishing – is a phone scam in which fraudsters try to trick you into divulging your personal, financial or security information or into transferring money to them. The fraudsters will usually impersonate a legitimate organisation such as your bank, a government department, Westnet etc.

What can you do?

  • Be aware of unsolicited phone calls.
  • Take the caller’s number and tell them you will call them back. In order to validate their identity, look up the organisation’s phone number and call them directly.
  • Never validate the caller using the phone number they give you as it could be fake or spoofed e.g. not the actual number from which the call is originating.
  • Your personal details may be available online e.g. on social media. Don’t assume a caller is genuine just because they have such details.
  • Never give out financial details such as your credit or debit card PIN numbers or your online banking password.
  • Block unknown and unwanted calls where possible – ask your phone provider about blocking tools.
  1. One Ring and Cut – Wangiri fraud – is a phone scam where fraudsters trick you into calling premium rate numbers. They set up a system (for instance using botnets) to dial a large number of random numbers. Each call will just ring one time, it then hangs up, leaving a missed call on your phone. They hope you think you have missed a legitimate call and call the number back – it will be very expensive for you to do so.

What can you do?

  • If you have a missed call from an unknown number, don’t call it back. If the call was legitimated the caller would have left a message or called you back.
  • If you receive many such calls you should let your phone operator know.

What to look out for

Unfortunately there is no way to identify a scam call number, as they can resemble a very normal, familiar, geographical or international number that you would come across on a regular basis.

ComReg – the electronic communications regulator in Ireland – provides the following general advice around phone scams:

  • Be wary of multiple calls or missed calls being received from the same number that you are unfamiliar with
  • Do not answer or call back any number that you don’t recognise where there is a blank or no voicemail message left
  • If you dial back an unknown number by mistake, hang up immediately on calls where there appears to be no recipient on the other end or where you are left on hold
  • Do not provide any personal information, for example, banking details/PPS number/credit card details/name and address/passport numbers etc.
  • If you have friends or relatives abroad that may be calling you, store their number (including the country prefix) in your phone and be aware of the prefix for the country where they might be calling from
  • If you are getting persistent missed calls from an unknown number, or if you return a call to an unknown number, contact your service provider in the first instance and follow their code of practice, details of which are available on their website
  • Some phones have the capability of allowing you to block a nuisance number from contacting you.  You should check your phone manual to see if this is a feature of your handset

Can I block/ stop scam calls to my Westnet provided VoIP phone? 

You can either block all anonymous callers or only anonymous callers who called a specific telephone number by following these steps:

  • Log in to your Fritzbox router by typing into a web browser.
  • Enter the FRITZ!Box password printed on the base of the router.
  • Click “Telephony” in the FRITZ!Box user interface.
  • Click “Call Handling” in the “Telephony” menu.
  • Click on the “Call Blocks” tab.
  • Click the “Add Range” button in the section “Block Ranges of Telephone Numbers”.