Many of us have experienced the growing frustration of receiving calls from unfamiliar international numbers on our mobile phones.
This has been ongoing for years, and we’ve grown accustomed to ignoring such calls. However, some Singapore telecommunications companies are now taking steps to address this issue for their customers.
Starting Friday (5 January 2024), customers of four major telecom companies in Singapore can block incoming calls from international numbers on their mobile phones.
This move is part of an effort to combat scams, as stated by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Thursday (4 January 2024).
The four telecom companies offering this service are Singtel, StarHub, M1, and SIMBA.
According to Channel NewsAsia, this service will be free to all customers of these four telcos. Those interested in the service can contact their respective telecom provider to learn more about its features and how to sign up.
Users who opt for this feature will block all incoming calls from international numbers. However, calls from Singapore numbers, including those made by individuals using overseas roaming to call back home, will still be received.
“Subscribers can enable and disable the international number blocking option based on their need,” IMDA shared.
For instance, a customer can set international number blocking as their default preference. Later, if they travel abroad and anticipate receiving calls from international numbers, they can temporarily disable this feature.
If you are a Singtel customer, you can access this service by enrolling in the Barring Service (International Incoming Voice).
The Barring Service is designed to block all incoming voice calls from international sources at no cost. It is accessible to both Singtel 4G and 5G Postpaid as well as Prepaid customers.
Singtel Postpaid customers can conveniently activate or deactivate the Barring Service using the My Singtel App under the “Add-ons” section. Alternatively, they may dial 1800 538 5833 within Singapore or +65 6538 5833 if they are overseas.
Once customers have successfully subscribed to Singtel’s Barring Service, they will receive a confirmation SMS to confirm their subscription.
StarHub has introduced a feature allowing its customers to block incoming international calls to address the increasing incidence of international scam calls.
According to its website, StarHub’s “Block Overseas Calls” feature effectively screens out all incoming international calls to your phone number. This feature is made available to customers free of charge.
There is no mandatory contract period when signing up for this feature, allowing customers to opt in or opt out as they see fit, except during the processing of their current request.
To activate the “Block Overseas Calls” service, customers need to access the StarHub App, tap on either the “Home” or “Shops” icon, and select the “Safety Suite” option.
From there, they can navigate to “Cyber Security,” where they will find the option to enable “Block Overseas Calls.”
Customers can then select the mobile number(s) they wish to apply this service and click “Confirm” to proceed.
If you activate the “Block Overseas Calls” service, incoming calls from international numbers will be blocked before they reach your device, and you will not receive notifications for blocked calls. However, this feature does not allow the selection of specific countries to be blocked.
Additional information can be found here for StarHub customers interested in learning how to block international calls.
If you are an M1 customer, you can block international calls by manually activating the call-barring feature on your phone.
Much like Singtel’s Barring Service (International Incoming Voice), the call-barring feature serves to prohibit unauthorised international calling.
For additional support and guidance, customers may contact 1627.
To manually activate call barring, you can refer to the activation guide found here.
For SIMBA customers, blocking international incoming calls on SIMBA is now possible by sending an SMS to 1218 and selecting option 4.
Feature Rolled Out Is Part of Anti-Scam Measure in Singapore
According to IMDA, approximately 1.6 billion international calls are received in Singapore each year, and many of these calls are made by scammers operating from overseas.
The authority also noted that between January and September of the previous year, the telcos blocked over 300 million scam calls, translating to roughly one out of every four incoming calls from international numbers being blocked during that period.
“In addition, all international incoming calls where the caller ID is falsified with a +65 prefix to resemble a call made from Singapore, were also identified and blocked,” IMDA said.
IMDA further explained that by mid-2024, telco subscribers can block both calls and SMS messages from international numbers on their mobile phones.
Speaking to Lianhe Zaobao, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said the feature would help “prevent the vulnerable who may accidentally answer an overseas call from a scammer and be tricked into it”.
As a person with an elderly parent, she found this feature useful because she can then activate it for her parents’ mobile phones.
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