ComReg issues advice as Irish numbers report Wangiri scam calls

19 Oct 2017

Be wary of unknown numbers. Image: D Hammonds/Shutterstock

Many people in Ireland have reported scam phone calls in a recent surge in activity.

While there are often instances of scam phone calls in the country, an unprecedented number of users in Ireland have been reporting that they are receiving calls from international prefixes such as +269 or +231.

The current prevalent form of phone fraud affecting users in Ireland is known as Wangiri, a Japanese term that means “one ring and cut”.

According to the Irish Cellular Industry Association (ICIA), the person attempting the scam dials a range of numbers, often using an autodialling service, and the calls are usually from a foreign country.

The main aim is for the person that missed the phone call to ring the number back. The numbers are generally expensive to dial and the criminal then needs to keep the user on the line for as long as possible in order to generate revenue, sometimes even employing recorded messages in an effort to prolong the call.

Exercise vigilance

The ICIA advised: “Mobile operators’ advice for people who receive a missed call from an international number, or a number that they do not recognise, is not to call the number back. If it is a legitimate call, then the caller will likely call you back or they will leave a voicemail. Vigilance should be maintained for any call you receive from any unknown number, particularly an international number.

It also said that some mobile operators are already taking action against known scam numbers across their networks. “To protect customers against Wangiri, operators in the Irish market have implemented controls which allow mobile providers to block their customers from calling these numbers back.”

Curbing scam calls

ComReg also issued guidelines for scam calls in general, as many thousands of people report being affected by the latest round of Wangiri calls. If users are getting persistent missed calls, they should contact their operator immediately and generally remain vigilant about answering calls from unrecognised numbers.

Scammers can get phone numbers quite simply, considering how often the average person inputs their number into online forms such as mailing lists or contests. Large databases can then be mined by cyber-savvy criminals to glean the phone numbers.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects