What is toll fraud and how can it affect your business? Toll fraud is where criminals hack into your phone systems and use them to make long distance calls all around the world. Unfortunately you are unable to claim money back if hackers do this to your system, and this can sometimes cost companies thousands.
1.2 billion pounds worth of fraud costs have been reported across the UK and the number of businesses being targeted is increasing each day. The worst part is that most businesses won’t realise they have been hacked until the bill comes through at the end of the month.
Never assume that this couldn’t happen to your business – around 84% of UK companies haven’t even got protection against toll fraud and are vulnerable to the threat. Managers need to make ensuring that their business is protected a high priority so they don’t have any unannounced bills at the end of the month.
At NT Voice and Data Solutions we are committed to making sure your phone lines are safe as possible from toll fraud – although it is impossible to completely prevent it. To keep protected as much as possible it is important to know the ins and outs of how to defend your business. Our main points regarding your security are here:
Ensure staff keep codes safe
As a business owner you need to make sure your staff have the right knowledge when it comes to safeguarding your vital information, especially if they travel outside the office – they need to be aware of what they say in public as someone may be listening to their conversation. Toll fraud is mainly associated with hackers finding out authorisation passwords and codes. One main thing you or your staff should never have are numbers programmed into auto diallers or written down anywhere on a computer. Keep this kind of vital information stored somewhere safe where unwanted criminals can get to.
Train staff on reverse charging
A common way which hackers gain access to your phones is by getting a member of staff to transfer them to another line or an unrecognisable number – this is called reverse charges. It is very important not to accept any charges coming from unknown numbers. If they gain access to an outside line and accept the charges, you could be given a very large unexpected bill.
Put in place simple systems
The best way to keep your phone systems safe is to make sure your staff are cautious and report any concerning activity. Things to look out for include a suspicious amount of calls being made, calls being made from an unknown number, or even something unusual about the nature of the call itself.
Another way to keep your systems safe is by restricting your calls so you don’t get any unwanted long distance calls. If you regulate where your calls go to, for example only in the UK or to countries you do business with, you won’t have any unexpected calls to other countries which cost a lot of money. In addition, you may decide to ensure calls can’t be made after working hours, so you don’t get targeted out of hours when no one is in the office.
Look for signs
A common scam these criminals are trying is where they will attempt to circumvent your staff by continuously transferring them to different channels until they reach an outside line. Look out for the signs that will alert you that someone is trying to fool you or your workforce, and make sure it is reported quickly to avoid any inconvenience.
The following are the main signs that you have a hacker attempting to get into your phone lines:
- Receiving calls where the person hangs up all the time
- Receiving obscene phone calls
- Repeated incidents where the caller asks for an invalid extension
- Wrong number calls
- Silent calls where you are the one who hangs up
- Callers asking for the identity of the person/company they have reached
Many businesses have had approaches like these, so be wary if any of them take place in your office. The best way to protect your data is to have secure passwords – try to make them secure as possible by giving them lots of characters – and make sure they are not written on any computers! Don’t use simple and common passwords which are easy for people to guess and also avoid using patterns in your passwords. Don’t use anything which is linked to your extension number because that will be easily accessible to hackers.
Change passwords regularly
Another great tip is to keep changing your passwords on a regular basis – yes it might get confusing sometimes but it is much better than someone gaining access to your important data. Also if anyone leaves your company make sure the passwords they had access to get changed as you don’t want them accessing or giving away your accounts when they no longer work for you. As well as this, keep an eye on the voice mail system so people don’t access your messages, make their own mailboxes or transfer themselves until they access an outside line – this will allow them to make calls without you knowing.
One way hackers find their way into your system is through old or unused mail boxes, so make sure you clean out any needless ones that aren’t used anymore (maybe from past employees). Use passwords on each person’s mail box to ensure they are secure. Also any prior members to your company will have had passwords to access them so assure they are changed in order that they can’t access them in the future.
If you use an automated attendant, ensure the capabilities are restricted for incoming callers.
Always be aware of warning signs on your bill, whether it is calls to numbers you don’t recognise, long outbound calls and especially out of hours calls. You don’t want to lose a large amount of money because of an unexpected bill. Anything out of the ordinary should be reported straight away to prevent toll fraud from happening.
There isn’t a way to completely stop toll fraud but there are many ways to prevent it from happening to your company. Reducing the risk is better than nothing and you can inform yourself and staff to lower the chances.
Keep a checklist of all the things to look out for and make sure each of your staff have a copy, if anything suspicious does pop up they can report it straight away. When it is out of hours then make sure your security is as high as possible so they don’t have a chance of breaking into your system.
We would advise you for caution having insurance against these acts as part of your security plan – then if anything bad does happen you won’t lose out on any money.
If you have any other questions on toll fraud on how to prevent it, feel free to give us a call or email! Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you advice.
Telephone: 01623 687750 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org