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Vodafone’s SMS Firewall Successfully Reducing Scam Texts

Vodafone’s SMS Firewall, launched at the start of September, has slashed the number of spam text messages users receive by three-quarters, the mobile operator said.

Vodafone's Firewall identifies and blocks fraudulent text messages. It works by examining both the sender and the intended recipient of each text, as well as a host of other factors, in real-time. It then blocks suspicious texts before they reach your device.

It was implemented after a dramatic surge in scam and spam messages during the coronavirus crisis. According to Ofcom research, 71% of British adults reported receiving suspicious text messages in just three months over the summer of 2021. Nearly half (44%) of those people said they received at least one per week. Overall, 44.6 million Britons said they received a suspicious message or phone call last summer.

More than just a nuisance, these scam communications are an alarmingly effective tactic for stealing money and personal details. Ofcom said that around 2% of those contacted last summer, or 900,000 people, reported following the scammer’s instructions, including clicking on phishing links, sending money, or surrendering bank details and other sensitive information.

To tackle the tide of spam, the main mobile firms—EE (BT), Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone—and industry trade body Mobile UK in October signed onto a charter pledging share information to identify sources of repeated fraud. 

Meanwhile, Ofcom said it is working with telecoms companies to “implement technical solutions” to the scourge of fraud.

One of Vodafone’s solutions is its Firewall and it’s been a raging success for far. Since the end of August, Vodafone’s Firewall has blocked more than 45 million phasing messages. 

In December 2021, the average daily volume of scam texts received by Vodafone users was down by 76% compared to in May.

Ross Doherty, UK Senior Fraud Manager at Vodafone, said: “We can all fall for a fraudulent message, which is why we continue to work really hard to beat the scams and prevent them from getting through.

“The December figures are really encouraging, but fraudsters continue to find new ways to attempt to scam customers into sharing personal and financial information. So, we continue to ask our customers to remain vigilant and report any suspicious text activity to us at 7726. This will help ensure we continue to keep one step ahead of the scams.”

Vodafone has also made it easier for Android users to report suspicious texts to the free 7726 service. Typically you just forward the message to 7726 but Android users can also report suspicious texts in Google’s Messages app by simply tapping a button.

Meanwhile, to battle scam calls, in October UK phone numbers agreed to automatically block calls from abroad that spoof numbers to appear as if they originate from within the UK.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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