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Making sense of fraud, robocalling, spam, & call blocking

George Perry George Perry
George Perry
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Trying to make sense of fraud, robocalling, and spam can be overwhelming (and more than a little exhausting). With bad actors finding new ways to attack and cost your business money and the trust of your users, users have lost faith in the legitimacy of the calls coming to their phones thanks to the prevalence of telecom fraud. Because of that, it’s important to understand the different types of fraud, what regulations to reduce illegal robocalling exist, and how to protect your business and your users against scams.

Types of telecom fraud

While there are almost too many different types of telecom fraud to list them all, there are five (5) main types that we, and our customers, see most often [source]. They are:

  1. International Revenue Sharing Fraud (IRSF)
  2. Traffic Pumping
  3. Domestic Premium Rate Service
  4. Interconnect Bypass
  5. Arbitrage

While we won’t go into detail about each of these (check out our Fraud Overview post for a more in-depth look at each type), it’s important to know that taking proactive steps to protect yourself and your users is one of the best ways to stop telecom fraud from happening.

Illegal robocalling

Robocalling has (perhaps rightfully so) built a reputation as being spammy, used mainly by scammers to try and defraud individuals and businesses out of money or sensitive information. There are, however, legitimate (and legal) use cases for robocalls. These can include receiving updates you’ve opted into, like a flight update or getting an update that your prescriptions are ready to be picked up. Sports teams have even been known to use robocalls to remind players to come for practices.

The new STIR/SHAKEN regulations, which go into effect June 30, 2021, rely on a technology framework designed to help prevent scammers from taking advantage of businesses and individuals by reducing fraudulent robocalls and illegal number spoofing. It verifies that the caller ID you see on your phone matches the calling party’s phone number. 

Bandwidth deployed STIR/SHAKEN in our network well in advance of the June 2021 deadline. Today, Bandwidth signs over 4.5B calls each month for top UCaaS and CCaaS brands, allowing them to bypass the lengthy STIR/SHAKEN token application and implementation process and rely on Bandwidth for call signing and authentication. 

You can learn more about STIR/SHAKEN by visiting our STIR/SHAKEN Regulations page.

Spam (no, not that one)

If you’ve had an email address for more than five minutes, you know what spam is. In the world of telecom, it’s mostly associated with unwanted messaging traffic that’s sent unsolicited to a user’s phone.

Bandwidth works hard to detect and prevent spam. Our 24/7 Fraud Team blocks more than 500,000 spam texts every day through a combination of hands-on analysis and the use of automated tools to monitor traffic and identify trends and anomalies that signal fraudulent and spam activity.

Using call blocking to mitigate toll fraud

The use of call blocking tools can enable carriers to prevent numbers with specific unlawful characteristics from traversing their networks. These tools aim to take a proactive approach to preventing telecom fraud, by stopping the traffic from ever entering a network. 

Our Fraud team uses advanced analytics to continuously monitor traffic patterns and potential robocalling campaigns that identify bad actors at work. Once detected, we work to aggressively leverage modern tools to block the offenders from reaching our network, protecting our customers and the entire ecosystem.   

How can you help restore trust in calling?

Get ready for STIR/SHAKEN. All service providers must have either implemented STIR/SHAKEN or filed their robocall mitigation plans by June 30, 2021 or risk having their traffic blocked after September 28, 2021. We strongly urge our voice customers to check with their legal counsel to ensure compliance with these regulations. 

Participate in industry traceback. U.S. voice providers are now required by law to assist the government, law enforcement, the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to investigate the source of illegal robocalls and prevent offenders from originating calls on their network. 

Report unwanted texts and phone calls. If you’ve experienced misuse of a phone number you believe is Bandwidth’s, we urge you to report the incident with our Fraud team. 

Our commitment

Bandwidth is an active participant and leader in the industry’s efforts to stop illegal robocalling, spam, and telecom fraud in all forms, both on our network and within the wider industry. We’re equally invested in making sure our customers’ legitimate traffic is protected from overly aggressive call blocking tactics. 

Every day, we work with our customers to prevent, detect, and mitigate telecom fraud, illegal robocalls, and spam. Fraudsters will always find ways to exploit current technology so it’s essential that all of us stay vigilant and act responsibly. Keeping up with and making sense of these changes, and what that means for protecting our network, is how we’re committed to protecting our customers.

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Learn more

Get in touch with our experts to learn more about telecom fraud, spam, and illegal robocalling, as well as Bandwidth's approach to fighting back against all of them.

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