How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

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How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed – SINGAPORE: Business development manager Chan Si Yong, 29, used to take calls from numbers starting with +65 because he thought Singapore’s country code meant it was a legitimate local phone call.

But each time, he heard an automated voice in very bad English saying it was from a legitimate business or government agency. He immediately turned off. “It’s clearly fraud,” he said.

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

Mr Chan has grown weary of these calls – he used to receive them once or twice a month – and is no longer taking them. “They always seem to be dishonest, so I’ve given up on answering them,” he added.

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The “+” prefix is ​​a telcos scam that has been implemented since April 2020 on incoming calls from abroad, after the overseas seller dumped the local number for the victim to answer.

These fraud calls then start showing international prefixes. So the crooks changed tack and started spoofing the number to appear as Singapore’s country code, “+65”.

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The 23,391 reported fraud cases in 2021 – accounting for about half of all criminal cases that year – is a 53 percent jump from the previous year. Chinese officials pretending to be fraudsters, which are often done over the phone, also increased by about 70 percent.

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Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary replied that people should not accept such calls if they are not expecting a caller from abroad.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will continue to work with telcos to improve how they detect and block calls suspected of fraud while ensuring that “real calls” are successful, he said.

On 15 April 2020, IMDA began requiring all telcos in Singapore to add a “+” prefix to incoming international calls.

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

In February, after a high-profile OCBC scam raised several questions in Parliament, Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo said telcos were blocking around 15 million suspicious overseas calls, or one in seven of all incoming calls to Singapore, each month.

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“Our telco is planning to include additional analysis to block more of these suspicious calls. We estimate up to 55 million calls will be blocked every month,” he said in a ministerial statement, adding that the number of suspicious calls was expected to increase. as the criminals change their tactics.

While telcos are reluctant to provide details of these additional measures to prevent fraudsters from being caught, experts say it could include using technology to analyze incoming calls from abroad in greater detail for signs of fraud.

IMDA told CNA on Wednesday (May 4) that beyond the “+” prefix, it has been working with telecommunications companies to build “network capabilities” to block fake messages and calls, including robocalls and numbers that insult local government agencies and emergency state. . service.

“We are currently working with telcos on additional steps, including steps to further reduce the number of landlines and mobile phones,” the spokesperson said. “We will announce these steps when they are ready.”

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In May 2021, Member of Parliament Murali Pillai (PAP-Bukit Batok) asked in Parliament whether IMDA would consider ordering telcos to block international calls with the “misleading” +65 prefix, following a sharp increase in fake calls from fraudsters based outside country.

In response, Communication and Informatics Minister S Iswaran said in a written response that IMDA had considered the matter, but found it “not feasible” because legitimate incoming calls use the +65 prefix.

“Such examples include Singaporean contacts traveling overseas and calling Singapore using mobile roaming services, and overseas call centers of local businesses holding local numbers in their phone numbers,” he wrote.

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

Some businesses use international call centers, most of which are located in India and the Philippines, because labor costs in these countries are very low.

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Forum threads discussing +65 calling may be from legitimate companies that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to make voice calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a regular phone.

VoIP phones are inexpensive and can deliberately spoof a +65 number to appear legitimate in the community.

Mr Kevin Reed, chief security officer at cybersecurity firm Acronis, says VoIP calls work using “from” and “to” entries.

“They’re like ‘from’ and ‘to’ in plain old letters – the sender can write almost anything in there and the receiver can even look up the ‘from’ because ‘to’ is all that’s needed to convey (the call),” he said. CNAs.

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CallHippo, a VoIP service, says on its website that Singaporean phone numbers are accessible and create “the illusion of a local presence for your business”.

Restaurant reservation service Chope told CNA that calls from the reservation confirmation service come with a +65 prefix because it works with an international calling service.

“With this service, our restaurant partners can automatically find food to confirm their upcoming online reservations without having to send staff on the phone,” said Irving Tang, Chope’s Chief Operating Officer.

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

While Mr Tang admits that some customers hang up on these calls, many restaurants still prefer these calls because they get “very high response rates” from Diners.

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“We identify the purpose of the call quickly, and we don’t ask for any personal information that would differentiate us from typical scam calls,” he said, adding that restaurants could choose to text instead.

If diners don’t answer the 65 calls, Tang said their reservation will remain, though the restaurant can choose to keep these “unconfirmed” reservations.

“We recognize the potential pitfalls of the +65 prefix, and we are now looking at other ways to allow visitors to confirm their reservations,” he added.

“Citi uses an international dialing system that allows calls and messages to be routed properly to mobile phones in different countries,” a spokesperson said.

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“The safety of our customers is very important to us, so we are always looking for ways to improve the safety and efficiency of our telephone service.”

Apart from the legal use of the +65 telephone, Mr Reed said he would like to see such calls banned completely and accept calls from international call centers as an added loss.

“I don’t think roaming users are really a problem, because they register in the HLR (home location register) and that way they can differentiate,” he said, referring to the mobile network’s fixed subscription database.

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

Mr Reed said the introduction of the “+” prefix didn’t help much because hackers will always find a way around the “basic” solution, and they already did in this case.

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“It is important to emphasize – this is a relentless competition. Each side is developing new ways to detect fraud, while the other is improving their fraud techniques,” he said.

Telecommunications companies now screen and block suspected fake international calls by looking at what’s called a signature, including where the call came from and the number dialed, Reed said.

This is similar to how email services fight spam, by looking at characteristics such as Internet protocol (IP) addresses and deciding if an email is legit.

“You can have static rules – for example, receive email from to be sent by Google’s IP – or you can have advanced rules, with machine learning, that can be used in this case (communication) again,” Mr. Reed added.

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This type of machine learning and data analysis can be used to detect fraudulent characteristics of international calls, including frequency, size and duration, said Sachin Mittal, head of telecommunications research at bank DBS.

For example, an international number making hundreds of calls to different numbers in Singapore every day could be considered suspicious, he told CNA, adding that telcos should use data analytics to handle the large volume of calls.

As authorities aim to intercept up to 55 million overseas calls every month, Mr Mittal said telcos should “invest heavily” in the equipment and could seek financial support from regulators.

How To Tell If Your Phone Is Spoofed

In response to questions from CNA, a spokesperson for M1 said the telco has used analytics to deal with fraudulent calls, and its network can identify incoming international calls such as Singapore numbers.

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“To combat the growing fraud efforts, M1 is also looking at other network-based analytics and end-to-end technology solutions that can complement our efforts against call fraud,” the spokesperson said.

So far, the addition of the ‘+’ prefix has succeeded in making scam calls easier to identify, as we haven’t seen a significant increase in cases reported by consumers.”

StarHub told CNA that it is working closely with authorities to identify and block popular numbers, and was the first carrier to add a “+” prefix to all international calls coming through its gateway.

During an anti-fraud conference organized by police in April, a Singtel official said the telco would not stop at introducing the “+” prefix for international calls.

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“We are also continuously trying to introduce new technologies using artificial intelligence and machine learning to handle some of these calls in real time,” said Mr Cheong Hai Thoo, vice president of Singtel’s customer and network engineering division in Singapore.

Telecommunications companies also stress the importance of educating customers and ensuring they use common sense when receiving calls from unknown numbers.

Mr Reed from Acronis said customers can use an app that blocks known numbers from calling from abroad, but cautions that this is only useful if the number

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