Azure Solutions, the telecoms revenue-assurance company, today warned of the increased risk of fraud over the Christmas period in particular to consumers who buy new mobile handsets and sign up to new service contracts. Telecoms fraud is currently an annual $37.9 billion worldwide problem* and Azure has outlined some of the potential threats facing both consumers and mobile operators during the festive season and identified some preventative measures that can help to reduce the problem.
Consumers can start to help protect themselves against fraud by doing the following:
• Set up a pin code on your phone to easily prevent use by other people.
• Consumers should limit service availability, such as international roaming, to only those areas that they use on a regular basis.
• If a phone is lost or stolen, report it immediately – unlike credit cards, consumers are liable for any calls made until the phone is reported lost.
• Treat your phone like you would your computer. Don’t ever respond to unsolicited text and e-mail messages, as this can quickly lead to premium-rate subscription fraud, or you could be signed up to unwanted services or fall victim to phishing scams.
• Apply the same common sense you would use with a traditional telemarketer. Never give personal details to unsolicited callers, as this could lead to identity fraud.
• Don’t be a show off with your new holiday gift! There is no need to advertise you have the latest mobile phone, only to become the target of a phone thief. Treat your mobile phone just as you would your wallet – or you might find it missing in a flash!
As for mobile-network operators, the following advice can help them combat telecoms fraudsters:
• Monitor dealer activations closely to identify potential dealer fraud.
• Monitor premium-rate services closely as fraudulent activity can be hidden in the Christmas volumes of traffic.
• Monitor and limit service availability rather than include them as standard on some packages, particularly over the Christmas period.
• Monitor SMS text messages for spam which can lead to premium-rate service fraud.
• Remind retail and customer-service staff to be extra vigilant as fraudsters may try and take advantage of the Christmas rush to perpetrate card and subscription fraud and service alterations from stolen phones.
Jack Wraith, chief executive of TUFF (Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum), said: "Increased efforts by fraudsters during the Christmas period is well known and an ongoing problem which can have significant impact on customers who become victims of such activity. It is therefore important that as many measures as possible are put into place in order to mitigate such fraud and TUFF welcomes this timely advice by Azure Solutions”
John Cronin, president and CEO of Azure Solutions, said: “Christmas does provide many fraudsters with an opportunity to exploit telecoms networks due to the proliferation of new handsets and service offers. However, if both mobile operators and consumers work together and follow some basic rules, they can start to ensure that opportunities are reduced, so the fraudsters don’t have a merry Christmas!”
*Azure Solutions/Analysys – ‘Operator Attitudes to Revenue Assurance 2005’
About Azure Solutions
Azure Solutions is the world’s largest revenue-assurance company. It is headquartered in London, with people in Westminster (Colorado), Ipswich, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona, Islamabad, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne and Mexico City. Azure’s end-to-end revenue-assurance product portfolio for current-generation networks includes Data Integrity, Wholesale and Interconnect Billing, International Settlements, Fraud Management, Mediation Management, Translation and Rating, Event Integrity and Route Optimisation. Azure has launched Azure Inter-Party Management and Azure Fraud Control System as the first products in its next-generation portfolio. Azure provides individual products or complete revenue-assurance solutions using a common platform and any combination of products that a customer might need. Customers can choose a system that they own and operate themselves or a bureau that Azure manages on their behalf. Azure has over 65 customers across the world comprising PTTs, mobile operators, national operators, carrier’s carrier and cable TV companies. Azure has significant carrier experience and understands the problems faced by all these operators.
The company’s heritage can be traced back to BT in the early 1990s. Azure was spun out of BT in April 2003 and is backed by New Venture Partners, Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures and Intel Capital.
Recently Azure won the ‘Best Revenue-Assurance Project’ award at the World Billing Awards 2005 in London, and ‘Most Promising Company’ at the TeleStrategies Billing & OSS World Excellence Awards 2005 in Philadelphia