Author: Adrian Brito
Telecom fraud is a growing threat to consumers because of the increasing ways in which we communicate with one another.
Years ago, we communicated either face to face or by telephone over a landline. Today, we communicate over telephone landlines, cell phones, email, Skype, social media, and text messaging. And who knows what’s on the horizon?
Because of the sheer number of ways in which we communicate, the people who seek to commit fraud have many more opportunities than ever. And with so many people who aren’t technologically literate, the pickings are often easy. You may want to consider a thorough audit of your networks or look into network inventory management.
What Is Telecom Fraud?
Telecom fraud or theft is the use of communications services to steal from consumers and businesses. Those committing fraud are, like most criminals, after valuables such as social security numbers, cash, a person’s identity, and anything else they can use to exploit and make money.
Although there is a multitude of telecom frauds and schemes perpetrated by fraudsters, there are a few that are becoming more and more pervasive as technology links the whole world together.
Here, we take a look at a few of the top telecom frauds for 2018.
Identity Theft Fraud
It’s safe to say that almost everyone is familiar with the term identity theft and understands the dangers. While back in the old days, people could have their identities stolen by someone getting hold of a social security number, which is still true today, but even more pervasive is digital identity theft.
Today, more and more people rely on their digital identities just as much as their “real” identities.
A digital identity is one you might set up with your bank or an e-commerce site. The problem lies when companies allow people to log into their services using their social media identities such as Facebook or Google.
The problem is that fraudsters don’t even have to hack your account to steal your identity. Often if they can get your birth date or social security number, they can create a “duplicate” version of your online identity, which can then be used to gain access to valuable information such as your banking accounts or credit card accounts. And, many prevention methods such as two-factor authentication still fall short when protecting you from this type of fraud.
While this doesn’t get the same attention in the media as identity theft, the fact is that traffic fraud or traffic pumping schemes is a significant threat to the telecommunications consulting firms and costs them and consumers millions of dollars every year.
Does this scenario ring any bells?
Your phone rings once then stops. You look at the caller ID, and it seems like it’s a local number, so naturally curious, you call back.
This is called One Ring Fraud, and the way it works is the fraudsters use computers to ring up thousands of phone numbers, and the computer hangs up after one ring. The fraudster doesn’t get charged for the call because it wasn’t answered, however, when you call back, it’s always to a long distance number in a high-cost destination, for which your provider must pay.
Another term with which most outside the telecom industry aren’t familiar, but still generates millions of dollars for the fraudster is SIP Trunking.
This type of fraud targets the telecom providers and is growing in popularity because it’s difficult to detect.
How it works is the criminal steals the credentials of a particular telecom provider’s subscriber base. They then use these credentials to make hundreds of seemly random calls to long distance numbers, usually overseas.
This generates money because your telecom provider for the call bills the people whose credentials were stolen (you). Many times the amount goes unnoticed because it’s so small, but when you multiply it over thousands of customers, it’s serious money.
Phone and Email Scams
Next, to identity theft, most people are probably familiar with phone and email scams. Some of these scams seem so unbelievable that you wonder why fraudsters still impersonate them, and the answer is simple: Because they still work.
Popular scams over the phone involve scammers calling people and acting as officials from the IRS or an attorney representing the IRS. They claim you owe money in back taxes and they’re about to take you to court or jail if you don’t pay up.
It sounds silly, but the fact is many people — especially the elderly — fall for this scam and willingly send checks or give out their credit card information.
When it comes to email fraud, you’re all probably familiar with the Nigerian prince who is ready to give you his fortune if only you could help him out of a jam.
While most people now recognize this as a scam, fraudsters still come up with new ways to lure people into giving them money or personal information via email.
Sometimes referred to as phishing, vishing is a scenario in which fraudsters send out emails that look as if they’re coming from an official source, such as Facebook, Google, PayPal or other online entities.
The email usually says something about your account being hacked and urges you to change your password immediately.
Users click a link, which takes them to a near perfect copy of the website where they enter in their email and password, and bingo! The scammers now have your login credentials to Google, your bank, PayPal, or whatever.
The most famous of this type of phishing was during the 2016 election when hackers got hold of John Podesta’s emails by sending out a phishing email.
Another way this scam works is by inserting pop-ups into websites that urge you to enter a password or email address.
Ever since people started doing business, criminals have been finding ways to scam people and companies out of their money.
While back in the old days, it took a little more legwork and effort to scam people and defraud companies, but today, it can be done from your couch with a laptop and cell phone.
Scammers are continually finding new ways in which to defraud people out of their identities and their money, and they’ll continue to do so until the end of time.
The key is to be alert and be suspicious of any call, text or email you get that seems too good to be true, or makes you think “that doesn’t sound right.”
- Network Control provides a fully managed Telecom solution that combines bill auditing, invoice management, technology consulting and project management with operational and business management support. www.network-control.com