Protecting your business from telecoms fraud in the 21st Century is more important than ever. Almost every week, news breaks of another company and its customers being targeted.
From high long-distance charges on hacked private branch exchanges (PBX) to stolen customer identities, the threat is ever-present. There’s even more bad news – attacks come from skilled criminals who target weak telecoms systems.
What could it cost your business?
Being a victim of telecoms fraud can cost your business dearly. A 2011 survey by the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) estimated that $40 billion is lost globally every year. The five top categories for fraud loss were:
- $4.96 billion – compromised PBX/voicemail systems
- $4.32 billion – subscription/identity theft
- $3.84 billion – international revenue share fraud
- $2.88 billion – by-pass fraud
- $2.4 billion – credit card fraud
This year, the European Commission has reviewed its 15-year-old telecoms rules and put forward new proposals. This includes extending regulation to web companies that offer calls and messages over the Internet – for example, Skype.
Telecoms providers already have to ensure the security and integrity of their services. This includes reporting any breaches to authorities and having contingency plans and service continuity strategies. Web companies will have to do the same, if the proposal is approved by European Parliament.
But ultimately, guarding against telecoms fraud is your responsibility. So to protect your business, we’ve got some tips on best practice detection, protection and prevention:
- Understand how your system works
Individual business needs vary. As such, even within the same company, sites can have different telecoms requirements – e.g. bandwidth and uptime. It’s important to understand what variety of technologies and carriers are being used to tailor your telecoms solution to your needs.
For example, with Premier’s PWAN solution there are added layers of security as a result of end-to-end control of call traffic to BT Wholesale. There’s no need for call traffic to pass publically across the Internet and the sites can be connected into the PWAN and configured to communicate privately with one another.
- Know who to contact
Should something go wrong, you should have a contingency plan for if the system goes down. This includes having a reliable point of contact with your service provider. Premier Choice offer 24/7 support to ensure your system is up and running when you need it most. You also only have a single point of contract, rather than having to call up all providers, which is hugely beneficial.
- Keep your employees’ training up-to-date
Unfortunately, employees make mistakes. They can be the weak link in an otherwise secure system. It’s your responsibility to provide them with the tools and training necessary to avoid fraudulent attempts – this involves recognising them, as well as knowing the correct procedure for notifying management. Heightening levels of staff vigilance will go some way to mitigating the risks of telecoms fraud.
Is your business at risk?
Neglecting any of the above areas could mean your business is susceptible to telecoms fraud. Any company that doesn’t actively engage with their provider about the security in place, as well as improve internal security (e.g. staff training and policies of use), is failing to keep up with the pace.
Examples of telecoms fraud
In 2007, Manchester-based tool distribution company, Joseph Gleave & Son, ran up a bill of £2,100 in illegal overseas calls to 19 countries in a case of dial-through fraud. It exploited the facility – offered on many digital exchanges – which allows company employees to ring in to the switchboard and then get an outside line to anywhere by keying in certain dialing codes.
11 wholesale operators were tricked into providing VoIP services to Vinod Tonangi, a convicted fraudster. He built an entirely fictitious start-up VoIP provider and lured wholesale providers into extending capacity to him on credit, then selling it onto others for a huge mark-up. In total, $4.4m was lost to the scam.
Start being proactive today
So, in order to protect your business from telecoms fraud, you’ve got to make sure your provider is dedicated to delivering your service in the most robust and resilient way possible. Also, make sure you’ve got this checklist covered:
- Strong passwords for your voicemail system, which are changed regularly
- Disabled access for voicemail system from outside lines, or keep essential users restricted
- Place international numbers/premium rate number restrictions on
- Restrict outbound calls at certain times
- Regularly review call logging and call reporting
Using this best practice advice, you can be sure you’re helping to better secure your business.