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Tackling telecoms fraud

Tackling telecoms fraud 

Like most fraud, everyone ends up paying somehow. Here’s a short description of how BT tackles some examples of fraud and protects customers

Every day BT and organisations across the globe are subject to ever increasing fraud threats and exploitation. So what types of fraud affect telecoms businesses, and what do we do about it?

We all read a lot about Identity fraud. ID fraud is reaching epidemic levels according to CIFAS, the organisation working to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime in the UK. CIFAS recently reported that 500 identities are being stolen every day in the UK. In the world of telecoms this often leads to fraudsters using genuine customer details to either set-up a new account or takeover the account of an existing customer. There are big stakes at play here. The fraudster wants high value handsets, for example, the iPhone X with a retail value of over £1,000. This area of fraud detection can be a real challenge for the telecoms sector not least because it can be very difficult to tell genuine customers from a fraudster with genuine customer details. However, we do have the upper hand with some sophisticated tools and fraud experts that are able to identify this type of fraud and help prevent it. But on the rare occasions it does happen we make sure we put it right for the victim as quickly as possibly through our dedicated Victims of Fraud team in Derry.

In addition to ID theft we see all manner of other fraud attempts, which include calls surreptitiously made from business phone systems in the UK to international revenue share numbers (numbers where the called party receives a cut of the call charges) in order to gain money from the revenue sharing facility and ‘top-up’ fraud on mobile pay as you go.

The fraud team

BT’s Group Fraud team supports BT’s lines of business 24/7, working closely with them to identify areas which pose a fraud risk. The team comprises a range of experts with experience of managing fraud and identifying where fraud might occur. It is involved in key decision making around products and services’ risks areas for fraud before and after launch.

In fact, very little gets launched in BT without the fraud team having had some involvement, whether that be to highlight risks or put in place controls to mitigate issues after launch. A good example is the annual Apple product launch. Clearly we want to sell more iPhones than any other network. However, in the same way these products are so attractive to genuine customers, so too are they to fraudsters. The fraud team gets involved at a very early stage to ensure strong controls are in place, eg, ID verification, deposits from certain customers, passport verification on delivery along with expert monitoring from the team in Derry highlighting any spikes or issues based on near real time sales reporting.

Fraudsters are always trying to find ways around systems, but we are always a step ahead. Our business depends upon looking after our customers, and we are determined to do that.

How to avoid fraud

  • If you receive cold phone calls or emails asking for any of your personal information, eg, account details, PINs or passwords, don’t respond.
  • Shred your documents. ID fraud doesn't just happen online. Shred or destroy personal information, receipts, bank statements, credit applications, insurance forms, expired credit cards and credit offers before you discard them.
  • Don’t overshare on social media. Don’t give away personal details. Never share information that might help fraudsters guess your passwords or answers to security questions.
  • Check your bank and card statements regularly and report any suspicious transactions.
  • Create strong passwords. Use passwords over eight letters long, using upper and lower case plus numbers and special characters if possible. Don’t use obvious words or number sequences (eg, password 123) or any personal details.
  • Never write down or share PINs, account details or passwords.