TMT Analysis has announced the launch of TeleShield, which utilises a range of numbering information sources combined with number portability data to determine the validity of phone numbers and whether a number has been assigned to a customer, has recently been ported or is currently roaming.
Mark Page, VP Sales, TMT Analysis, explains that TeleShield enables CSPs to detect and defend themselves against origin-based and international revenue share frauds. And this is a big deal, because while no-one really knows just how much money is lost to fraud in the global telecoms industry – and it varies hugely by operator, country and region – the numbers involved are big. The CFCA (Communication Fraud Control Association), for example, estimates around $40 billion was lost to fraud in 2021, equating to 2.2% of global revenues. This is almost certainly an underestimate, but even at that level it would buy a lot of cable or 5G equipment. The industry’s best guesstimate of how much IRSF fraud alone is costing is somewhere between $4 and $6 billion.
Page argues that his company’s solution, which covers 240 countries and provides real-time intelligence to service providers, enables CSPs to detect problems faster, closing the window of opportunity for would-be OBF and IRSF fraudsters. “Number verification is absolutely crucial for any business working in this sector,” he says. “The authentication we provide also brings peace of mind and the opportunity to stop fraud before it affects your bottom line or the service you provide to your customers”
TeleShield provides three data points that help to tackle these types of fraud and minimise their impact:
- Is the number real?
- Is the number in use?
- Does it come from a higher risk group?
Together these data points enable CSPs to assess the trustworthiness of the number in real-time, strengthening and validating the user verification process, reducing the incidence of fake accounts, providing more accurate risk assessments, improving conversations, and determining the optimal channel for message delivery.
Says Page: “Working with us adds an extra layer of protection and enhanced visibility regarding the numbers that you are seeing. In real time this highlights potential fraud risks which ultimately improves margins and the quality of service provided by our customers”.
Money lost to fraud is a tragedy for the telecoms industry, because it results in the loss of cash for future investment and inflated costs for customers who ultimately pay the price. It also reduces customer confidence in CSPs, undermining digital business models, and raises support costs.
But fraud isn’t new. Telecoms has long been a target for fraudsters. But what’s concerning is that despite the industry’s best efforts, the risk of fraud is increasing. According to the CFCA, telecoms fraud is not just increasing in line with revenues but as an increasing proportion of revenues. For example, in 2017 the CFCA estimated losses at 1.27% of global revenues, by 2019 that had risen to 1.74% and by 2021 it was 2.2%. The reasons for this rise are complex: there’s more opportunity, fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated techniques, and CSPs themselves are getting better at estimating losses more accurately. But even though CSPs have more weapons in their arsenal to combat fraud – such as AI and increased industry co-operation – it’s hard not to conclude that the fraudsters are winning.
IRSF is one of the most common types of fraud committed using techniques such as auto-generation of calls to numbers using stolen or fake IDs, robocalls and texts that entice legitimate customers to call a premium rate number, and Wangiri frauds that trick customers into calling back. In itself TeleShield isn’t the answer to telecoms fraud, and not even to IRSF, but any successful defence against fraud starts with having access to accurate data in realtime in order to reduce the window of opportunity. As such this new offering represents a useful addition to CSPs’ defences against what are becoming increasingly sophisticated attacks.