Telecoms regulator ComReg has revealed scam phone calls and texts are costing Irish businesses and individuals €300 million a year.
The prevalence of scam calls and messages has increased in recent years, with most mobile users reporting to have received scam calls or text messages.
Research commissioned by ComReg indicates that, last year, there were 365,000 fraudulent scams, an average of 1,000 a day. More than 5,000 businesses fell victim to fraud after receiving scam calls or texts.
There have been multiple reports of different scams, including those posing as motorway toll operators, banks, An Post, or even a child in distress. The overall “total harms to society” are conservatively estimated at more than €300 million annually, according to ComReg.
ComReg proposes to require mobile phone operators to implement several technical interventions to combat scam calls and texts.
The telecoms regulator also assessed an SMS scam filter to block scam text messages and protect against more sophisticated scams in the future. This intervention requires legislative change and ComReg is engaging with the Department of Communications to progress regulations.
ComReg in a statement said that, in a bid to help protect customers from scam calls and messages, they were “working with the telecoms industry to put in place safeguards to make it harder for fraudulent calls and texts to be sent to you”.
Separately, more than 25,000 Three mobile phone customers have been refunded after they were overcharged.
The mobile operator has repaid €140,600 after confirming noncompliance in relation to premium rate services. The issue occurred in October last year where Three charged customers €2.50 per premium text, when they should have charged €2.
The move was in violation of the premium rate services (PRS) code of practice, which all mobile phone operators are required to follow.
No further action is to be taken against Three, ComReg has confirmed, while it has also been confirmed Three has taken steps to remedy the issue.
A spokesperson for Three added: “Three Ireland identified that a number of customers were charged in excess of what they should have been for premium rate services. Affected customers were contacted and refunded, and Three Ireland has since implemented systems and processes to ensure that this issue does not occur again.”