Ofcom is to introduce the first national 03 phone numbers this year, and will end the allocation of 070 numbers, which are used regularly in phone scams.
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It is introducing 03 numbers as an alternative to expensive 08 numbers like 0870.
Calls to 03 numbers will cost the same as calls to geographic numbers (starting 01 or 02), and will be included as part of any inclusive call minutes or discount schemes in the same way as geographic calls.
Revenue sharing - where the dialled party can receive a share of what the consumer pays to make a call - will not be permitted on calls to 03 numbers.
Ofcom says these requirements will apply to all calls, whether from a mobile, payphone or standard fixed line.
The organisation’s chief executive, Ed Richards, said, "Consumers will be able to dial 03 numbers with confidence about the cost of their call. We expect public services and many others to view 03 numbers as a real alternative to higher cost 08 numbers."
Ofcom will start allocating 03 numbers to communication providers from next month, and it expects the first 03 numbers to be in use by companies and public bodies before the year is out.
It is also taking action to prevent scams on 070 “personal numbers”, which are often confused with mobile numbers. Ofcom will end 070 personal numbering allocations from the end of 2007.
Internet security software firm Sophos said earlier this year that 070 numbers were being used by internet fraudsters involved in lottery scams.
When a recipient of a spam e-mail message promising a lottery win rings the 070 number provided, they may believe they are talking to someone in the UK on their personal number, but, said Sophos, they could be talking to someone on the other side of the world, who was after their personal details to commit fraud.
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