Law against “ping call” fraud in the making

Submitted by Thomas Baudewijn on February 25, 2016

In the past weeks Belgian phone numbers were overwhelmed by a wave of so-called “ping call” fraud, which has duped an estimated 10% of all people that have been contacted. Reason enough for our minister of telecommunications Alexander De Croo to undertake action and prepare a new law that should take care of this situation.

The phenomenon “ping call” fraud works as follows. People are being contacted by a phone call from a foreign number that quickly breaks the connected so the contacted persons can’t answer the call in time. The scammers then hope that this person will call them back, because then they are connected to a very expensive number that generates a lot of revenue for the scammers.

This fraud can also take place via SMS, messages via apps or social media.

As a victim there isn’t a whole lot you can do about this, because how do you prevent someone from calling you? You can always register your number on the do-not-call-me-list free of charge so nobody can contact you for direct marketing purposes. Although that sounds nice, you still depend on the goodwill of others to abide even if they are legally obliged to do so. It needs no explanation that scammers working from abroad don’t really take this into consideration.

Apart from that you could also file a complaint with the police or justice, but in the short run this will not yield much result. This requires the prosecution of foreigners and that always makes things a whole lot more complicated.

The new proposal is meant to tackle exactly this problem by giving everyone the possibility to block certain incoming calls by a simple request with its operator. This provides the means to quickly gain control over who can call you up and to block any kind of unwanted calls.

As far as we are concerned this new bill can’t be passed quickly enough as everyone will agree that unsolicited calls can be a source of major frustration.

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