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There are more serious things than Bill Shock: modern telephone fraud

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Feb-2010 12:19

In the last couple of weeks we have seen a series of articles in our mainstream media about "bill shock". A "bill shock" happens when you travel overseas and get a surprisingly large bill on your mobile usage.

I do not have sympathy for people who claim "bill shock" because people know there are roaming charges involved when you travel. When you arrive in another country both Vodafone and Telecom send SMS warning users of different costs for voice and data connections. You signed a contract that says you have to pay for roaming costs.

I don't like the mobile data roaming costs as anyone else. I think our telcos simply make as much as they can - it's unbelievable a mobile operator in the U.S. can give their customers 5GB of mobile data for a fixed price, but charge visitors something that (adding up the margins) comes to $10/MB. The mobile data roaming prices are a joke.

But there's something else that local companies will have worry more and more with the adoption of VoIP solutions - the old telephone fraud.

Just to give you an idea, a company has a digital PBX. For some reason it's not completely secure and some crooks find it. These people then enter their own configuration in this digital PBX and create a "company" to sell cheap calls to China, Korea, South Africa. They sell some calling cards around and publish their "access number". Callers buy these cheap services, call the access number and after the dial tone enter the number they wish to call and get connected - all using the unsuspected company's digital PBX over their VoIP lines.

Companies may find this after a month or so, when the first bills come in. But by then they suffered under a constant stream of outbound calls and have to pay for it.

This is kind of tricks work with new digital PBX systems, but also with older ones. An unsecure route to an outside line, a non-secure voice mail access and things can be done, easily.

This is being discussed on Geekzone here, and shows an interesting series of questions:

  • Should the telco monitor your usage and contact you if patterns change (a la credit card companies?)
  • Should the telco be responsible for a misconfigured VoIP installation that their technicians are not involved with?
  • Should an insurance be required for telephony services now?
  • Should insurance companies charge less from companies using VoIP installed by certified technicians?
  • Should the telco "forgive" the bill and simply pay for the calls that are not their problem in first place?

What do you think?



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freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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