April 15, 2024
Lawmakers want to limit spoofing scams

A bid to reduce the growing source of payment fraud could land telecom operators in trouble.


Imagine the scene – you get a call from the tax officer and are asked why you have not paid your bill.

Panicked – and seeing that it’s from a legitimate number – you immediately agree to the settlement to avoid any additional penalties.

Only this call was not from the government, but arose from a sophisticated and increasingly common fraud known as spoofing – which EU lawmakers are now on a mission to stop.

In legal plans presented in June last year, the European Commission said banks should reimburse customers for any losses they suffer as a result of scammers impersonating bank employees.

In a report to be voted on on 14 February, MPs on the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee want to take it forward.

Lawmaker Ondrej Kovarík (Czechia/Renew Europe) told Euronews that the new rules would also bring telecom operators and online platforms under the ambit, in line with the EU’s existing Digital Services Act.

“We have taken important steps in Parliament to address impersonation fraud,” Kovarik said in a statement. “We can cover a lot more in this regard than someone pretending to be from your bank,” he said.

According to an amendment circulated internally among lawmakers, the new plans would cover fraudulent emails or phone calls that appear to come not just from payment providers, but “any other relevant entity of a public or private nature.”

Communications providers who do not remove fraudulent or illegal content will also have to offer refunds to victims, according to the text seen by Euronews on January 26.

Those plans still need to be formally agreed by lawmakers and will also need support from governments meeting in the EU Council – but proponents are hopeful.

“We could be a game-changer in this fight,” Anna Martin, financial services officer at Brussels-based consumer advocacy group BEUC, told Euronews in an interview. He said: “I’m confident the banks will take action – if they have financial consequences.”

Serious Problem

This is a serious problem. Current EU payments laws that took effect in 2019 require online sales to be verified by a fingerprint scan or a one-time passcode.

This made fraud harder – but also made scammers more creative, and the sums involved could be huge, if not life-changing.

In Belgium alone, phishing scams are set to increase by 60% in a year, reaching almost €40m in 2022, according to banking lobby group Fabbelfin. The average loss from fraudulent credit transfers is €4,191 – much higher than losses typically incurred at stake for credit card or ATM scams – data from the European Banking Authority says.

The hope is that the new rules might encourage telecom operators and banks to work together to stop fraudulent calls coming from legitimate banks, energy companies or tax authorities – yet not everyone is convinced.

In an application submitted to the European Commission in October, the GSM Association, a lobby group for mobile operators such as Orange and Telefónica, said a further liability could amount to €8 billion per year with a “seriously disruptive” impact on European connectivity. Is.

Operators are concerned there could be a conflict with existing online privacy laws if they are expected to moderate phone calls in the same way as social media content.

But those in the financial sector are keen to broaden the responsibility for tackling fraud a bit.


“It makes sense to put a little pressure on telco operators,” Elie Beruthi, president of the European Payment Institutions Federation, told Euronews. “It remains to be seen how to do this.”

Source: www.euronews.com

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