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What the Fraud!?

By Amy Oldham
May 28, 2015

Fraud affects the telecommunications industry to the tune of $46 billion dollars a year1, putting both carriers and their customers at risk. While telecom fraud is nothing new, the current technology and market conditions make the proposition of telecom fraud more attractive than ever before:

Access—the ubiquity of IP access to the telecom network makes it possible for bad guys to launch probing attacks from anywhere, in a completely automated fashion.
Revenue—using seemingly legitimate international revenue share providers, bad guys pump traffic to premium rates service numbers they own, generating huge profits for themselves.
Impunity—a bad guy in the Philippines, hacking a PBX in Detroit, serviced by a carrier in Dallas, to make calls to Lichtenstein has little to fear from the authorities in any of those jurisdictions.

In her tenure with Equinox, implementation and training coordinator Christi Vanoye has seen it all when it comes to fraud and the way it’s perpetrated. She has personally had a hand in every customer implementation project Equinox has completed. I recently sat down to talk to her about current fraud management trends.

Amy Oldham:

What’s going on the world of fraud monitoring these days?

Christi Vanoye:

We continually see the same old stuff, including International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF), subscription fraud, traffic pumping, no matter where I go.


What are the hot countries for IRSF these days?


It’s hard to list hot countries anymore. The number ranges associated with IRSF are all over the world.


At one point, our customers were blocking entire countries to combat IRSF. Is that still effective?


Some destinations like Ascension Island are blocked on many of our customer’s networks. These destinations have little legitimate usage and are very expensive to call. However, many IRSF number ranges are in countries that can’t be blocked because the countries have high amounts of legitimate calling. Using their carrier rate sheets, most of our customers are blocking the most expensive ranges. If they have customers that request that these blocks be lifted, those customers normally have to sign an agreement accepting responsibility for any fraudulent usage.


Is there a difference in the type of fraud based on the customer’s geographic location?


We have Protector customers in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and the Caribbean. We serve companies located solely in the Unites States, as well as some US-based companies who have satellite offices abroad. Regardless of geographic location, fraud is a global battle that everyone is fighting. We see the same types of fraud and the same dialed destinations regardless of the customer’s location.


Given the unrelenting nature of telecom fraud, what 3 key fraud management strategies do you recommend?


First and foremost, pay attention to your fraud management system! Don’t just set it and forget it. Just like cars require regularly scheduled, preventative maintenance to remain in tiptop shape, your fraud management system needs fine-tuning for optimum results. Second, cost is an important part of your fraud management strategy. Keep your rate decks/cost information up to date. Finally, use all available resources to combat fraud, for example many professional trade organizations have forums where members share tips or contribute information regarding the latest fraud incidents.


What advice do you have for someone who is not sure where to go for more information regarding fraud or suspicious call activity?


In addition to the initial training during system deployment, we provide on-going training as needed for our customers. The training staff and support team are just a call or click away.

As long as fraudsters can monetize their efforts, they will continue to find new methods of gaining illegal access to telecom networks. Purposeful and dedicated fraud management is absolutely essential to protecting profit margins—just one incident of telecommunications fraud can be financially devastating. Equinox continues to lead the fight against this growing menace. With over twenty-eight years of experience and a customer base that includes most large CLECs and Cable MSOs, as well as scores of smaller carriers, the Protector fraud management system has proven its ability to mitigate exposure to fraud and avoid hard dollar losses—despite the relentless and ever-evolving fraud schemes. To learn more about this product or the people who power it, visit www.equinoxis.com or call (615) 612-1200.

About the Author: Amy Oldham is in Corporate Communications at Equinox Information Systems, where she creates and maintains the company’s technical documentation as well as all other customer-facing publications. Amy is also responsible for the company’s newsletter, email campaigns, press releases, and social media presence. When not writing, Amy enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis, and swimming.

1 According to the latest Global Fraud Loss Survey For more information, visit, www.cfca.org/fraudlosssurvey.