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New rules to combat misuse of 070 numbers

Written by: Emma Lunn
New Ofcom rules mean phone users are now protected from high charges for calling '070' numbers.

Ofcom has capped the wholesale cost of connecting calls to 070 numbers, to help protect callers from fraud and unexpected call costs.

070 numbers are often mistaken for mobiles, but cost much more to call. They are designed to be used as a ‘follow me’ service, where calls are diverted from one number to another, so the person being called can keep their own number private.

For example, classified adverts often use these numbers instead of someone’s private number. Small businesses also use them to make it easy to manage calls.

But 070 numbers are often mistaken for mobile numbers (which begin with ‘07’), even though they are more expensive to call.

Before today’s price cap, phone providers charged between 45p and £1.10 per minute for calls to 070 numbers. This meant possible ‘bill shock’ for consumers, who may have been unaware of the cost of the call.

Ofcom was concerned that these numbers have been used to defraud people. It uncovered evidence of scams, such as missed calls and fake job adverts, that took advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness of these high prices. It said an estimated minimum of 20 per cent of 070 calls involved some form of fraudulent activity.

As a result, the regulator has imposed new rules to cap the wholesale cost of calling 070 numbers. This is the price that any company controlling an 070 number can charge the caller’s phone company for connecting the call.

Previously, this was as much as 39p per minute but the new 070 wholesale price cap will match the cap for calls to mobile numbers – currently around 0.5 pence per minute.

The move will remove the incentive for scams by significantly cutting the money that can be made from using these numbers.

Jonathan Oxley, competition group director at Ofcom, said: “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.”

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