Enforcement programme into phone and text scams

1 February 2024


Programme into Phone and text scams
Case opened 1 February 2024

UK telephone and text companies must use phone numbers efficiently and effectively, to help tackle scams. They must also take appropriate steps to ensure their customers comply with our rules (set out in the General Conditions of Entitlement). We have published guidance on how providers should do this.

This enforcement programme will make sure that providers are following our rules and support best practice in relation to the use of phone numbers.

Relevant legal provision(s)

General Conditions of Entitlement B1.5, B1.6, B1.8, B1.9, C6.4, and C6.6; section 128 of the Communications Act 2003

Opening text – 1 February 2024

Protecting consumers from harm caused by scams facilitated by phone calls is a priority for Ofcom. Our more recent work has included publishing industry guidance and reminding companies operating within the telephone and SMS sector of their obligations.

Ofcom is today opening a programme of work, or ‘enforcement programme’ to look at what is being done by companies within the sector and how the General Conditions of Entitlement (GCs) and industry guidance are applied.

The main objectives for this programme are to:

  1. ensure telecoms providers are complying with our rules and taking into account our industry guidance; and
  2. support the adoption of best practice when it comes to using telephone numbers efficiently and effectively.

Regulatory framework

Under the regulatory regime set out in the Communications Act 2003, providers do not require a licence to operate in the UK but can be made subject to conditions of general application. The General Conditions of Entitlement are the regulatory conditions all providers of electronic communications networks and services must comply with if they want to provide services in the UK.

The GCs have specific sections dealing with numbering and other technical conditions (Part B), and consumer protection conditions (Part C). We have also issued industry guides which set out what is expected of communications providers to comply with our conditions (see, for example: Statement: Good practice guide to help prevent misuse of sub-allocated and assigned numbers and Guidance on the provision of Calling Line Identification facilities and other related services).

The enforcement programme will primarily consider the activities of providers under GC B1 (in particular, 1.5, 1.6, 1.8, 1.9) and C6 (in particular, 6.4, 6.6), and whether and how providers are taking into account our industry guidance. We will also consider our section 128 powers under the Communications Act 2003 to address patterns of behaviour and bad practice such as non-compliance with the GCs and industry guidance (PDF, 500.9 KB) if these amount to ‘persistent misuse’

Our enforcement programme

We expect this programme to run for 12-18 months, during which time we may decide to open formal investigations if we find examples of breaches of our rules by providers within the sector. We will publish updates on progress at relevant points over that period.


Enforcement team (enforcement@ofcom.org.uk)

Case reference CW/01280/01/24