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Premium rate numbers have a higher than normal rate, and part of that extra charge is paid to the service provider, enabling businesses to be funded by the calls. Internet calls make it easy to use these numbers to monetize telecom fraud. This paper will show you how it works, and how to prevent it.
Premium rate numbers have long been a staple of the telecom industry. These numbers charge a higher than normal rate and part of that extra charge is paid to the service provider, enabling businesses to be funded via the calls. Adult chat lines (phone sex) and psychic hotlines are very common uses of premium rate numbers. In Europe, it is not uncommon for technical and customer support services to use premium rate numbers as well.
Fraudsters today can hack into a phone network, use stolen equipment, or simply use deceptive practices to generate traffic to premium rate numbers. The results can be tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.
It is shocking how easy it is for someone to get started with premium rate number fraud. Where do they get these numbers How do they get started Many sources for these numbers can be found through a simple Google search. Our research at TransNexus turned up 41 premium rate number services that offer quick setup for premium rate number services.
A potential fraudster need only contact one of these companies to be provided with a list of premium rate numbers. The service will then give the fraudster a cut of the income provided from calls to those numbers.
Simply setting up a premium rate number does not necessarily lead to fraudulent activity. Some businesses do legitimately stimulate traffic to their premium rate number through legal means, such as advertising. In fact, many reputable charities make use of premium rate numbers or premium rate SMS text messages to raise money. In these cases, the call flow would look something like this:
It is important to note that in the fraudulent scenario, the enterprise will rarely pay for the fraudulent calls placed using its hacked PBX. Though the service provider may try to collect for the calls, it is rarely successful. Most subscribers to phone services expect fraud to be handled as it is with a credit card. That is, the service provider should be responsible for recognizing fraudulent activity, and the subscriber should not be held responsible for the charges.
First, TransNexus solutions come pre-loaded with a blacklist of known premium rate numbers. Calls made to these numbers are automatically blocked or re-routed. Second, by monitoring the financial risk of each call as well as factors like call attempts and call duration, TransNexus solutions are able to detect suspicious traffic in real time. If a subscriber suddenly shows a spike in traffic to a high rate destination, the TransNexus solution will send email and SNMP alerts, and may also be set up to automatically block or re-route suspicious calls.
Technically, a true vanity phone numbers spells out a word. The age old example is 1-800-FLOWERS. But a true vanity number is harder to dial because the caller has to hunt for the letters on the dial pad in order to know which digits to press.
The other kind of number is what many people call an easy dial number - a number that has a pattern or repeating digits which make it both memorable and easy to dial on a keypad. At an extreme, the telephone number 1-888-888-8888 fits in this category. (Unfortunately it is taken.)
These vanity phone numbers generally have superior recall value, depending on the word and its relevance to the business. But easy dial numbers are much easier to, well, dial, because of the repeating digits, especially at the end of the phone number. They also have excellent recall value compared to a set of random digits.
The reason is very simple. The easier the phone number is to remember and/or dial, the easier you are making it for your customers or clients to call you. And since calling is still the #1 way people rea