Nobody likes the extent of fraud that plagues communications providers and their customers, but stopping the flow of money to fraudsters can be challenging. You may have identified that traffic passed over your voice network was fraudulent, but that does not change the fact that another telco has billed you for it. Here are some tips on how to withhold payment when you know it will otherwise reward crime.
Many telcos include in their contracts the standard anti-fraud clauses promoted by i3forum, an international nonprofit association that counts many of the world's largest wholesale carriers amongst its members. The goal of these clauses is to stop payment when fraud occurs by encouraging all telcos to follow a common definition and common understanding of fraud.
The i3forum definition of what constitutes fraudulent traffic is quite clear.
Fraudulent traffic includes, but is not limited to, traffic that the Carrier reasonably determines as: (i) calls terminated to repeating interactive voice responses (IVRs) or recordings platforms; (ii) not routed for termination in the country of destination and/or to the owner of the number range; (iii) involving numbers that are unallocated or unassigned at time of traffic; (iv) machine generated, sequential, or simultaneous in nature.
If you rely on telcos that refuse to include such a clause in their contracts then you should ask why that is. One reason fraud is so widespread is that businesses which offer the cheapest prices may rely on other methods to generate profit.
The full text of i3forum's recommended fraud clauses can be downloaded as an MS Word document by clicking here.
Any refusal to pay must be backed by some assurance that there is real evidence of fraud. This is what the i3forum's standard clauses say about that.
...the following information must be provided by the Service Receiving Party (disputing Party) before the due date of the invoice relating to the alleged fraudulent traffic: i. a case description (in English) of the Fraudulent Traffic and ii. a criminal complaint or report from a public authority or a document issued by a public authority confirming that (criminal) investigations have been initiated by the respective authority in the country of traffic origination.
Getting a law enforcement agency to investigate such frauds can be tricky. There are few police forces that have much training on telecoms fraud and they may not be motivated to help you. They may also be unsure of what paperwork they can offer to support your claim. It helps if you can build up a relationship with law enforcement. Often the police need advice from telcos on how to proceed.
Symmetry has lots of experience of dealing with law enforcement bodies in a wide range of countries on behalf of our clients. If you are short of time, then Symmetry can work with the police to obtain the documentation you need on your behalf. Time is especially important because there will be a deadline for lodging the dispute with the telco that is billing you.
The evidence of a fraud will ultimately come from the data about the traffic carried over networks. However, the tell-tale patterns that show there has been fraud may not be obvious to an untrained eye. Putting some effort into reviewing and explaining the data will greatly improve the chances that the police and other telcos will respond appropriately when you notify them of fraud.
Symmetry has the expertise to examine call records associated with a suspected fraud attack. Our independence lends credibility to telcos seeking to withhold payment. We also have plenty of experience of translating the data into the kind of explanation suitable for presentation to a law enforcement agency.
The problem with handling non-payment claims relating to fraud is that they create an additional burden for the telco's staff, and the workload can be erratic because it depends on when fraudsters strike. Unhelpful police or argumentative counter-parties can add further complication. And there is always the requirement to initiate a claim by the deadline. Symmetry is here to help when you need us.
Depending on the size of a fraud attack, the analysis of the data typically takes us between 5 and 7 days. At the conclusion we will provide a full incident report, along with a draft police report that can be copied on to your letterhead for submission to your local authorities.
Our team has completed many fraud payment dispute investigations over the years. The values of these incidents have ranged from five-figure sums to almost a million US dollars. Every case has resulted in payment being successfully withheld, with none being escalated to formal dispute mediation.
If you want to learn more about our fraud dispute resolution service then you are welcome to get in touch using the form below.