Toll Fraud Policy

Focus Group is dedicated to reducing the risk our customers face to the best extent possible. Whilst we appreciate that no telecommunications system will be completely immune to the danger, our advice regarding security can alleviate the risk significantly.

The main points to consider are detailed below.

It is vital that employees have all the necessary training to optimise the efficiency of the system. Cases of Toll Fraud are extensively linked with the stealing of authorisation codes and passwords. It is essential that your staff safeguard these to the best of their ability. The numbers should never be written down or programmed into auto diallers. If you have staff who travel outside of the office they should also be aware that thieves can be watching or listening in to phone calls in order to find out the relevant numbers.

Furthermore, it is important to establish the identity of anyone placing a collect call to the company before accepting charges. An ever increasing problem is the receipt of a phone call where the caller asks to be transferred. This is yet another way in which access can be gained to your network and an outside line. An advisable approach would be to establish a system whereby any suspicious activity is reportedly immediately by your employees. Suspicions may be aroused by the nature of the call or by the number of phone calls received.

Control of your phone calls is a good way to heighten the security of your firm. Most thieves will focus on making non permitted long distance calls. You are able to place restrictions on this by eliminating or restricting unnecessary calls to other countries. This is ideal if you know the countries you do not do business with. You could also place limits on which of your workers are allowed to make such calls or on what times calls are made, as this could stop phone calls in the evening.

There are certain signals to look out for that will alert you of toll fraud. A growing number of thieves will try to deceive your workforce in order to gain access. For example, they could ring you on a local access number or 0800 service and ask to be continually transferred between personnel until they obtain an outside line. It is recommended that all of the following should be looked into; obscene phone calls, continuous hanging up of the phone, recurring incidents of asking for an invalid extension number, wrong numbers, callers asking who they have reached and silent calls that wait for you to hang up. All of these techniques have been used in the past and should raise alarm bells if they occur in your office.

Passwords are the easiest form of protection but there are several ways to make these more secure. The more characters you use the better. You should also avoid patterns in your system such as digits that follow in order or all of the same numbers. Do not use default passwords or access numbers as they are simple to crack. Keep away from making the password the same as the extension number or those which are related to the owner, such as an I.D. Room or social security number.

In line with this it is also advisable to frequently change the passwords. We would recommend doing this quarterly, as well as when anyone leaves the firm who had access to them.

In addition, you should keep a regular check on your voice mail system, fraudsters could access board messages, make their own mailboxes or transfer until they find an outside line. You could stop this by the use of internal calls only within the voice mail, getting rid of mailboxes of previous employees immediately or making sure there are no spare, needless mailboxes. Users should change their Personal Identification Numbers routinely for access to the voice mailbox, as well as taking the previous advice of making sure that these involve the maximum amount of characters to reduce the chances of a hacker. Remote access telephone numbers should not be published either as this puts you at risk.

Next, automated attendants answering companies’ telephones can also leave them open to fraud. The toll fraudsters will go from the automated attendant and dial the 90XX or 900 extensions. On several exchanges these numbers will connect them to outside lines. You can limit or block the capabilities of local dialling or long distance trunks in order to stop this. Block access codes such as 900XXX can be used in these circumstances.

In summary, the best way to prevent toll fraud is to look out for the warning signs, such as anything out of the normal. This may manifest itself in the form of out of hours calls, calls to other countries that you don't recognise having done business with or several incoming calls on your call detail records followed by long outbound calls.

If you notice any of these signs you should take the following steps as toll fraud can lead to extensive losses that can ascend extremely quickly. You should call Focus Group and your line/least cost routing provider. We can then help you to prevent further instances of toll fraud. Although there is currently no way to stop toll fraud you can educate yourself and your workforce to lower the chances of it happening, stop it when it occurs and thereby reduce the harm it can do. The most likely times for it to happen will be when security is lowest, which is normally outside of working hours. You should therefore keep a list of things to look out for as well as what to do if you notice them.

Focus Group recommends that the customer include the telephone system related applications as part of their company security policy and seek insurance against such acts.

Focus Group will not be liable for any cost incurred due to toll fraud of any kind and has taken all possible actions to prevent such incidents.