All Overseas Calls Will Start With “+” From 15 Apr To Help Prevent Phone Scams & Spoof Calls

If you own a phone, chances are you’ve received a spoof scam call before.

Whether it’s a ‘package from DHL’ or someone claiming that you owe them money, you’ve definitely picked up at least one of these pesky calls.

If you’re lucky, you probably wouldn’t have fallen for them. Unfortunately, it seems like not all Singaporeans have such great discerning abilities.

According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the number of crimes reported saw a 6.3% increase in 2019. It would have fallen by 4.6% if scam cases were excluded.

Source

In an effort to tackle the increasing number of scams in Singapore, the government is collaborating with local telcos to help phone users identify spoof calls more easily.

Government removes “+” prefix so Singaporeans can differentiate overseas calls from local ones

From 15 Apr, all international calls will start with a “+” prefix. On the other hand, all local calls will no longer start with Singapore’s international dialing code, “+65”.

A “+” prefix indicates an overseas call
Image by MS News

The government hopes this will reduce the number of Singaporeans who fall victim to international phone scams as they’ll be able to immediately differentiate spoof calls from legitimate ones.

Only overseas calls will start with “+” from 15 April

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is currently working with local telcos to implement this measure.

From 15 Apr, only calls from overseas will start with a “+” prefix, so all local calls will consist of just numbers.

Since our country’s dialing code is “+65”, it’s easy for international spoof callers to make their calls look like local ones. With the removal of the “+” prefix, it’ll be much clearer to tell if the calls are made locally or from overseas.

For instance, a local call will now read “67236474” while an international call would read “+67236474”.

A local call:

Image by MS News

An international call:

Image by MS News

IMDA hopes this will help Singaporeans distinguish international calls from local ones more easily, and thus be less susceptible to spoof calls.

In addition to this, Singtel, StarHub, M1, and TPG Telecom will all be required to block commonly-spoofed numbers like 999 and 995.

Singaporeans lost S$21 million to scams in 2019

The removal of the “+” prefix from local calls is just one of the measures being rolled out this year to prevent Singaporeans from falling for such scams, reports The Straits Times (ST).

As society grows more reliant on technology and digital transactions, spoof calls and scams are becoming more common.

In 2019, the number of victims of impersonation scams reportedly increased by 50%. They collectively lost a total of $21 million.

Scams pose a serious risk to Singaporeans’ personal privacy

ST also reported that the Government is stepping up efforts to protect Singaporeans’ personal information by reviewing and adapting the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), said Dr Janil Putucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information.

He said,

The Government will continue to develop additional measures to combat scams so that our citizens can be better protected.

Given the increased frequency of scams, it’s clear that they’re not a matter to be taken lightly.

Scams often involve victims giving out their personal information like their banking details or personal particulars. With such information, scammers can impersonate victims, drain their bank accounts, and carry out other unscrupulous acts.

We hope the new measures will prove successful and that the number of reported scams will fall this year.

If you’re not sure about the legitimacy of a caller, it’s always best to avoid giving out any sensitive personal information, lest you fall for a scam.

Featured image by MS News.