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Singapore introduces measure allowing mobile users to block international calls in anti-scam initiative

Singapore combats scams with a new measure enabling mobile users to block international calls.

Effective from 5 January, telecom companies offer options to disable these calls via phone, SMS, or apps.



SINGAPORE: In a bid to combat rising incidents of scams, Singapore has unveiled a new measure allowing mobile phone users to block all international calls.

This initiative, part of a broader set of anti-scam measures to be implemented in 2024, is set to become effective starting Friday (5 Jan).

Telecommunications providers are offering users the option to disable international calls by contacting them through phone calls, SMS, or their respective mobile applications.

The move is aimed at severing a crucial communication tool for fraudsters, as phone calls have been identified by the police as one of the top three methods employed by scammers to reach their victims.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) plans to roll out several security features throughout 2024 to intensify the fight against scams, as revealed by MCI Minister Josephine Teo in an interview with Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on 18 December last year.

Mrs Teo, who also serves as Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation and Cybersecurity and Second Minister for Home Affairs, emphasized the need to enhance digital security.

Mrs Teo explained the rationale behind the new option, stating,  “Today, if you are alert, when you see a ‘+65’ and you know that it is not a real local call but that it is coming from overseas, you don’t answer it. But you find it very annoying.”

“So, we are going to make available an option for people who do not expect to get any overseas calls in the first place to activate an option to totally block all overseas calls.”

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) clarified that users opting for this feature will have all incoming calls from international numbers blocked.

However, calls made from Singapore numbers, such as those using overseas roaming to call home, will still be received.

IMDA aims to further expand the options for users, allowing them to block international SMS messages by mid-2024, addressing another common means of contact used by scammers.

Singapore, which receives approximately 1.6 billion international calls annually, witnessed around 300 million suspected scam calls blocked by telcos between January and September 2023.

While scams through phone calls ranked as the third most common means of contact for fraudsters, behind messaging and social media platforms, the measure will not affect scams carried out on communication services like WhatsApp.

The introduction of this new feature follows years of warnings to mobile phone users about calls with a “+65” prefix, a common characteristic of scam calls.

Mrs Teo highlighted the usefulness of the feature for vulnerable users, particularly the elderly, in preventing them from falling victim to overseas scam calls.

In addition to this measure, Singapore has been proactive in its fight against scams, having launched the ScamShield mobile app in 2020, which blocks calls and messages from known scam numbers.

Since 2023, organizations not registered with the IMDA are flagged to mobile phone users as “likely scams.”

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A more flexible system is to allow users to block all foreign originated calls EXCEPT for SPECIFIED numbers. Any changes to the exceptions listed numbers will require Singpass to approve 🙂

On a more serious note, the BANKS should tell customers using their funds transfer apps just WHO and/or WHERE the funds are actually being transferred to. Is it to a PERSONAL or BUSINESS or GOVT account? Is it to a LOCAL or FOREIGN account?

This is not a solution but will create more issues. What if it’s own families or friends or colleagues overseas wanted to call back, especially on urgent or life and death matters and phone call is blocked?

Scammers have 1001 ways to work around this and then? Come up with another solution after having another few thousands get scammed?

Last edited 5 months ago by Singapore Fooled Again n Again

About fuxking time they did something! Million$ salary yet things done so slowly. Unless it is something that causes them to lose face, then action is super-fast…

Really?!? Yesterday a call marked Scam manage to get through although I never answer … ‪8753 0761‬