​E.China's Zhejiang gives options to users to shut off calls from overseas to combat telecom frauds
Published: May 15, 2022 08:41 PM Updated: May 15, 2022 08:25 PM

A user swipes on his smartphone while WeChat logos appear in the background, 14 May 2020. Photo: IC
A user swipes on his smartphone Photo: IC

Telecom operators in East China's Zhejiang gave options to users if they would like to block calls from overseas in a bid to protect them from becoming victims of rampant cross-border telecom frauds.

Users who won't apply to activate overseas call service by May 20 will be suspended from receiving international calls. The Global Times learnt from a staffer from Zhejiang-based China Mobile on Sunday that the method is not mandatory as users who would like to continue to receive calls from overseas can register for the service for free at any time.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, an industry association, believes adopting the method, like a shield, could reduce the chances of an ordinary telecom user being deceived by telecom frauds. Vulnerable groups such as the elderly or disabled are always targeted by telecom frauds because they have weaker cognition.

Data from the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) showed that as of November 2021, more than 370,000 telecom and network fraud cases had been cracked nationwide and more than 326.5 billion yuan was intercepted. In some major cities, telecom fraud cases account for more than 50 percent of criminal cases.

As China has been taking a severe attitude toward telecom fraud crackdowns, a large number of telecommunications and network fraud dens in the country have been transferred overseas but due to the cost of cross-border law enforcement, it's not easy to fundamentally rope in criminals and retrieve property loss of victims, which makes this method very important, Xiang said.

Now about 60 percent of telecom fraud cases were based overseas, such as Cambodia, the Philippines, Myanmar and the island of Taiwan, data from the Supreme People's Court and the MPS said.

But Xiang also noted that users must be well informed by the operators and be provided easy access to the application for resumption of international calls, in case some could mistakenly believe this move hinders their rights for communications.

Several Zhejiang residents reached by the Global Times said they have yet to receive notice from China Mobile about the suspension of international calls. Report by said China Mobile's branch in Zhejiang had confirmed the information and their users would be later notified.

Zhejiang Province is home to numerous tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding and NetEase, and also one of the most flourishing commercial regions nationwide, especially in the digital economy. It has been a frequent victim of telecommunication fraud. Zhejiang Province filed a total of 65,000 telecommunication fraud crimes, with a loss of 3.897 billion yuan, and arrested 50,800 criminal suspects in 2021.

Also, as a response to address frequent telecom fraud from overseas, China Mobile, Unicom, and Telecom branches in North China's Henan Province stopped users from receiving SMS from overseas since May 7, according to a notice released by the three telecom operators.

Likewise, users can still reach for the telecom operators to apply for resumption to be able to receive SMS sent from overseas, Hong Kong, Macao Administrative regions and Taiwan island for free at any time.

East China's Jiangxi, Northeast China's Liaoning, Southwest China's Guizhou and East China's Zhejiang provinces also adopted the same measure on March 28, on January 25, November 27, 2021 and August 10, 2021, respectively.