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Telecom fraud can affect any business in the UK. It has received little attention, probably due to the sensitive nature of this fraud. Below you will find some valuable information and tips about telecom fraud.
What is Telecoms Fraud?
1. Malicious Disruption (AKA The Geek Hack)
Most usually targeted at larger companies; an individual with a gripe will attempt to hack into the telephone system and create large call costs for the company with no personal gain. Please read through the Tips to Avoid System Hacking and Fraud Indication Alerting section of this document to help pick up possible fraud when it happens, not when your invoice is produced.
2. Unauthorised Calls by individuals with direct access
This type of fraud is usually committed by staff outside of working hours, who are using your company’s phones for expensive calls such as premium rate numbers and international destinations. This fraud involves no hacking or complexity, and is largely opportunistic; however it can be just as costly. In this instance it is vital that you have indicators to raise any “out of the ordinary calls” to your attention. For example, if your business runs from 09:00 to 17:00, you should be alerted to any calls made between 17:00 and 09:00 that could possibly not be business related calls.
3. Organised Crime
Unfortunately, this type of fraud is rife in the UK and is worth twice that of Credit Card Fraud, at approximately £1.2 Billion per annum. This is similar to the geek hack, however is committed for personal gain by the Fraudster. There are several reasons for this; the principle one being to make money. Once hacked into your telephone system, the Fraudster will re-sell phone cards for international destinations at a much lower rate than it would cost to call the destination from a landline. When the phone card is used, the destination is called via your telephone system, giving the Fraudster a huge profit from the sale of the phone cards and leaving you to foot the bill.
Top Tips to Avoid Telephone Fraud?
Telephones are the lifeline of most businesses and you can’t afford to lose contact with your customers. Arming yourself with knowledge and implementing best practice is your best protection against telecoms fraud. Taking a few simple measures to safeguard your business could save you thousands of pounds:
- In the same way that you would never dream of using the word ‘password’ as your password, make sure you change the security settings and passwords on your telephone system from the default or factory settings.
- Change voicemail and DISA (Direct Inward System Access) passwords regularly and protect them and your access codes from unauthorised use.
- Remove or de-activate any telephone system functionality you don’t need including remote access ports.
- Never publish the remote access phone numbers that connect callers to your voice mail system.
- Program your telephone system to disallow access after three invalid attempts, in the same way as entering the wrong PIN at the cash machine.
- Remove redundant mailboxes.
- Immediately de-activate access codes and voice mail passwords of people who leave your business.
- Keep an eye on your monthly phone bills for anything that looks unusual
- Carry out regular audits of your telephone systems including privileges and restrictions
- Restrict access to equipment and hardware and limit users’ systems access to the minimum level it needs to be
- Implement policies and procedures to minimise risk
- Protect yourself with Fraud Monitor. Fraud Monitor keeps a close eye on your account throughout the month and alerts you to any unusual activity when it happens.
If you have been a victim, you need to report it at: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.