Telecom fraud is a massive problem for UK businesses, with 8000 companies being targeted monthly by these scams. 80% of all firms have been attacked by telecom fraud, with one in six SMEs losing more than £100k yearly due to these unlawful activities. The average loss per UK business affected is around £18k, but it’s estimated that the total cost of telecom fraud in the UK stands at approximately £1.3 billion every year. It’s clear that telecom fraud is having a significant impact on UK firms – so what exactly are these criminals doing?
Telecom fraud – what is it?
Telecom fraud is fraud that uses phone systems to commit crimes. The UK has seen an increase in telecom fraud over the past few years, and it’s becoming more common for UK businesses, especially SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises).
Telecom fraudsters can easily use technology to impersonate their victims and gain access to confidential information or money. They commonly pretend they are from a company’s bank or supplier and ask you to provide sensitive information over the phone, such as account details. This could leave your business vulnerable if criminals get this information – they could transfer money out of your accounts before anyone realises what has happened or even use it for nefarious purposes like identity theft or credit card scams.
The most common types of telecoms fraud include:
- Call diversion – a hacker diverts the call from your business number to another number where they can collect personal or financial information from you.
- Voice phishing – hackers disguise themselves as an authority figure or someone close to you in order to gain your trust and get access to your bank details or passwords.
- SMS scams – where a text message tells you there’s been an issue with your account (for example, “You have spent £50 on beer at Tesco!” (hundreds of miles from where you live). The message directs them to click on a link that takes them through their phone browser, asking them for their PIN code, bank details etc., without knowing what happened!
- Phishing is a type of fraud where someone tries to trick you into giving them sensitive information like your account number or password.
- It’s a common scam, especially in the UK, and it’s usually done via email. One in five cyber-attacks targets small businesses using phishing emails as their mode of entry.
Voice phishing scams
Voice phishing scams are becoming increasingly popular. The scammer will call you pretending to be from your bank or another trusted organisation. They may pretend to be your colleague or someone you trust and have spoken to before. They’ll usually try to make the phone call seem more legitimate by asking for your account details or asking you to transfer money directly into their account.
If you receive a suspicious call, don’t give out any information about yourself or your bank account over the phone unless you’re sure it’s legitimate and safe. Instead, hang up the phone and call back on a number listed on your bank card and double-check on google.
With compromised phone systems, hackers usually target your business over the weekend while no one is around. They make international and premium rate calls costing £5 plus per minute, all without the knowledge or consent of the business owner. These calls can rack up significant charges on the business’s phone bill, leaving the company vulnerable when the bill arrives.
Phone slamming is a process by which a phone company changes the service provider of an existing telephone number without the authorisation of that number’s subscriber. In most cases, this occurs when an unauthorised person posing as an employee of one telecommunications company convinces another telecommunications company to transfer or otherwise change a customer’s telephone number without their consent.
Phone companies, scam artists and regulatory agencies use premium-rate lines to rip you off. There is no reason to pay more than a few pence per minute for any phone service, never mind £3 a minute!
Stop reading this blog and call your telecom provider today to block all premium rate calls. No business needs to waste money on chat lines, adult entertainment sex providers, or rip-off services like 118 Directory assistance.
How telecom fraud affects UK businesses
The average cost to a business is roughly £240 per month, a significant financial loss for small businesses.
Telecom fraud can also cause reputational damage to a small business. Customers may lose trust in the company if their personal or financial information is compromised or they experience service disruptions or unexpected charges.
Small businesses may also face legal liabilities if they are victims of telecom fraud, with a duty to report incidents of GDPR to the Information Commissioners Office.
Telecom fraud is not a new or even modern problem. It’s been around for decades and can be as simple as tricking someone into believing they’re talking to another business owner when they aren’t. However, more sophisticated scams are being used in this type of crime today, making it much harder for businesses to spot them before it’s too late and their money has already gone missing.
With this in mind, you must take steps to protect your business from telecom fraud. The best way to do so is by taking the necessary precautions and implementing some basic security measures:
- Educating employees about telecom fraud and how to identify and report suspicious activity is an essential step in protecting your business. Encourage employees to be vigilant and report suspicious phone calls, emails, or websites to a designated point of contact.
- Reviewing phone bills regularly can help catch any unauthorised charges or unusual activity. Inspect your phone bill closely for any unknown numbers or charges.
- Using a managed phone system can help protect your business from telecom fraud. Managed phone systems often include security features such as call blocking and caller ID and stop unauthorised calls.
- Implementing security measures can also help protect your business from telecom fraud. This can include using strong, unique passwords for all accounts, using two-factor authentication, and regularly updating software and security protocols.
- Be cautious of unsolicited calls or emails, especially those that ask for personal or financial information. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a call or email, do not provide any information and report it to the appropriate authorities.