Telecom fraud managers fight against fraudsters during COVID-19 crisis

There is now a global outbreak of COVID-19 with the resultant lock-down, panic, and fear across the globe. We have been keenly following the media to keep ourselves updated about the situation. While, very reassuringly, more than 95% of the workforces have started working from home with possible secure connectivity, fraudsters have also been equally active, looking for opportunities to attack the subscribers all over the world. In the past month, there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of IRSF, Robocalls, SMS Scams, Social Engineering fraud, DDoS and cyber-attacks.

The operators and customers have been enormously strained during the past few weeks. We need to rise to the occasion to protect their interests. In my view, the following steps may be taken to deal with the telco fraud-related challenges:

  • Subscriber awareness: A subscriber awareness programme need to be launched immediately to make consumers wary of various fraudulent schemes that are floated during the time of panic and fear. A case in point as reported by one of the Asian operators is that last week many subscribers who had installed the COVID-19 live update apps on their phones coughed up a whopping $ 0.16 Mn because they were unaware that apps would also take over the status of the phone including SMS read and write function.
  • Prioritizing the fraud alerts monitoring: Remote working would have its challenges. The fraud management teams need to prioritize the alerts, especially which would have more impact on the subscribers and act on it and fix them on priority.
  • Root-cause corrective actions: Solution devised to eliminate the causes of fraudulent activity will stem the probabilities of its recurrence. For example, in the network, the range of the high-risk destination numbers may be blocked for a short period if an IRSF fraud attack is detected.
  • Communication and collaboration: We must be connected digitally to all the stakeholders so that they act tough on fraudulent activities on the network. SLA with stakeholders may be refined and suitably tweaked for faster action. This is one of the key elements when the whole team is working remotely to support daily operations.
  • Regular updates on emerging/latest fraud patterns: Frequently visiting the fraud forums to be abreast of the emerging/ latest fraud patterns worked out by the fraudsters. Criminals are always on the lookout to ruin the processes and systems for nefarious ends. Many operators have reported an increase in the robocalls, SMS scam & cyberattack during this period.
  • Making fraud management as part of the Business Continuity Plan (BCP): It is very important to incorporate fraud management as part of the BCP in a major way and ensure we have maximum coverage during this period.

In my reckoning, the fraud management teams ought to be more vigilant and agile than ever before to meet the new challenges of telecom fraud becoming rife during this global outbreak of COVID-19. Fraud managers are superheroes when it comes to building trust with the customers.

Stay safe and stay healthy!

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