Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers urge action against phone scammers

DECEPTION:DPP lawmakers called on the public to stay vigilant and not believe unknown callers asking for payments to set up new telephone numbers

By Cheng Hung-ta and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Huang Wei-cher, left, Chen Ou-po, second left, and Cheng Pao-ching, second right, call on the National Police Administration and National Communications Commission to improve the prevention of phone scams from abroad at a new conference held yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: Cheng Hung-ta, Taipei Times

The National Police Administration and National Communications Commission must step up efforts to investigate telephone scams operating overseas, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators said yesterday.

Fraudulent calls made through special software, while seeming to have originated from landlines, actually come from modified Internet telephone numbers, DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) said.

Numbers starting with 070 — the commission-designated digits for Internet phone calls — should warrant caution, but calls routed through category 2 telecommunication services can mask the number, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) told a news conference jointly held by other DPP lawmakers.

Category 2 telecommunication services, as defined by the Telecommunications Act (電信法), are businesses that operate with, or as sub-contractors to, category 1 firms. Category 1 firms are commission-approved companies that own wired or wireless communications networks, as well as being granted permission to extend their networks.

The time it takes to trace calls usually gives scammers ample time to end their calls, making prevention more important than trying to catch the culprits, DPP Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) said.

The lawmakers called on the commission and the administration to step up efforts to prevent and identify scammers, adding that as the Lunar New Year approaches, the public should be vigilant and not believe unknown callers who ask for cash to set up a new number, a common ploy used by the scammers

Criminal Investigation Bureau Deputy Director Chuang Chia-lu (黃嘉祿) said that tracking domestic numbers is easier than tracing those originating from overseas.

A phone number generated through a local platform could be tracked as long as it uses a server in Taiwan, Huang said.

Phone calls routed through a server abroad would be difficult to track, as foreign nations might not want to cooperate on the matter, he added.

Commission official Lo Chin-hsien (羅金賢) said mobile phone numbers — including prepaid cards — in Taiwan all require double sets of IDs prior to being set up, offering more protection.

People making phone calls through mobile software, such as Line or Skype, using legally obtained phone numbers would display the ID number provided by telecommunication companies, Lo said.

Over the past four years, category 1 companies were only fined nine times for violating double-ID regulations, Lo said, adding that people who are caught altering phone numbers may face a fine between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million (US$6,342 and US$31,713).

People can use the 165 hotline to help identify the source of suspicious phone numbers, Huang said, adding that the bureau will be working closely with the communications commission and the Financial Supervisory Commission in a bid to prevent telephone scams.

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