Recent media reports in Hong Kong have highlighted fraudsters from China phoning and cajoling Hong Kong residents in parting with large sums of cash.

So now the Hong Kong government is taking action. Hong Kong's Office of the Communications Authority has now forced the territory's telephone operators to insert a specific "+" sign in the calling number display of mobile phones to help the public identify incoming calls which originate from outside Hong Kong.

Often these phone scammers are able to masquerade as local callers by having 8-digit calling numbers resembling local calls. So this new measure will immediately alert the public to possible phone scams through caller ID spoofing techniques used by fraudsters.

Prior to this measure, the practice of inserting a "+" sign before the calling number of an incoming external call varied from one telephone operator to another in Hong Kong. Unifying the arrangement at this juncture aims to raise the alertness of the public to calls from possible scammers by identifying the origin of the suspicious calls from outside Hong Kong.

The measure is now implemented in full by all relevant telephone operators in Hong Kong except for two: Hong Kong Telecommunications Limited and Hutchison Telephone Company Limited. HKT and Hutchison are putting in place the new arrangements in phases, and the insertion of "+" sign for all incoming calls originating from outside Hong Kong for these two operators will take effect in phase two some time in September 2015.


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