Protect your business from cyber-threats

Fight toll fraud with pre-paid international SIP trunks

Rob Muir

Product Manager – Voice

September 8, 2021

The global communications industry has a deep dark secret.

To be fair, it might be the worst kept secret in the industry. Every communication service provider, big and small, knows about it and quietly takes care of it, but we rarely talk about it.

That secret is international toll fraud.

What is toll fraud?

Toll Fraud is a financial cybercrime executed in the telecom domain. It is typically committed across international borders by exploiting vulnerable parts of a communication network.

The business case is simple for the fraudsters. By taking control of part of a communications network, they can artificially create revenue for themselves by terminating or originating traffic. This is not a harmless lark. The proceeds can be used to fund organised crime and terrorism.

There are many different kinds of toll fraud schemes and targets. For telecom resellers and Managed Service Providers (MSPs), the most common forms of fraud are:

  • Creating fake trial accounts to access free calling credit (Account Abuse)
  • Tricking your customers into returning international calls (Wangiri)
  • Generating high volumes of traffic to premium rate numbers (IRSF)

Toll fraud attacks often come on weekends, festival events and public holidays, when GNOC teams are most likely to be away from their desks. Sometimes the fraud may not be spotted until days later.

Typically, an enterprise PBX is hacked. It might be as straightforward as an easily guessed admin password. Then, using bots to generate tens or hundreds of calls by the minute, and with every call adding a few more dollars to their take, fraudsters can quickly rack up some serious money. All at your expense.

Your revenue at risk

The CFCA, the global industry authority on communications fraud, estimates 1.74% of global telecom revenue (~$40 Billion AUD) is lost each year through toll fraud.

One of the reasons toll fraud persists is the difficulty of knowing which calls are fraudulent, and which are normal day-to-day traffic. In addition, international carriage is built on trust that the traffic each network sends and receives is legitimate. In practice this means that international calls must be paid for, regardless of fraud.

So, someone is going to have to pay - it’s just a question of who.

Would your customers happily pay a huge bill for calls they didn’t make?

Is your carrier or CPaaS generous enough to forgive this debt?

If your business is like most small and medium-sized service providers, toll fraud is a financial risk that keeps you awake at night.

What we’re doing to protect you

Unfortunately, most carriers stick their heads in the sand. They continue to keep toll fraud a secret and pretend that it’s just the cost of doing business.

But Symbio is different. We’ve taken significant action to help our Australian and New Zealand customers mitigate the risk of toll fraud:

  • On-net fraud monitoring. Predictive analytic software allows our GNOC team to parse network traffic in near real-time and flag suspicious patterns within legitimate international calls. We’ve captured and blocked over a million fraudulent calls using this approach. In turn, saving our customers many thousands of dollars.
  • Pre-paid international SIP trunks. Simple but powerful, a pre-paid calling cap ensures your costs never overrun your budget. You can setup separate pre-paid SIP Trunks for different customers (with different international calling needs) or setup an account-wide limit. You’ll receive alerts as you reach pre-defined thresholds of your budget, which may bean early signal of fraud.

Tollfraud monitoring and pre-paid international SIP trunks are currently availableto customers in A/NZ. We plan to extend these features into additional regionsin the future.

Learn more about pre-paid SIP Trunks

  • Robust, carrier-grade network security. Our voice network is engineered to be secure and high performance. We follow industry best practice and continuously improve our security posture, conscious that many mission-critical services depend on our coverage and connectivity.

Learn more about security

How to win the fight against toll fraud

If you’re a telecom reseller or MSP, you have an obligation to protect your customers and your business from communications fraud.

Choose a communications carrier that understands the threat you face. Start by asking your current voice provider hard questions. Demand answers about their network security posture.

What experience do they have detecting and managing toll fraud?

What analytic and investigative systems do they have in place?

How much fraud do they block each year?

If you have the choice, seek out products like Symbio’s Pre-Paid International SIP Trunks, which mean you can protect against overspending and control your financial risk.

Most of all, don’t keep toll fraud a secret. Speak to other service providers about your experiences. Raise the issue at industry events. Take every measure you can to secure vulnerable BYO devices. Educate your staff and your customers about the risks and costs of toll fraud.

Together, we can win this fight.

Fight toll fraud

Learn how to fight toll fraud with pre-paid SIP trunks

Learn about Symbio's security

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