By Amy Oldham & Christi Vanoye
There’s a saying guaranteeing us only two sure things in life—death and taxes. If you’re in telecom, you know there’s a third certainty—mergers and acquisitions. Every week, the news details the latest telecom deals and speculates on carrier partnerships that haven’t yet happened. Even the smoothest mergers and acquisitions (M&A) involve a transition period, which can be stressful to navigate. And, for those in the fraud trenches, it’s crucial to quickly and efficiently integrate your fraud department/team/systems after M&A to protect both companies from substantial loss and fraud risk. Here are 7 tips for maintaining a strong defence and avoiding pitfalls amid the transition:
No two companies have the same business model, serve the same customers, nor offer the same services. Likewise, each party in an M&A already has an established fraud management strategy/system/solution (FMS). Having two distinct processes does NOT make one right and one wrong; however, one size definitely does not fit all when two carriers combine forces. You can’t catch or stop fraud if you’re not monitoring the traffic. Your goal after M&A is to:
- Monitor the CORRECT traffic. Ask about network integration so nothing slips through the cracks.
- Streamline your efforts. Eliminate inter-machine traffic to avoid false alarms due to duplicate records.
- Understand ALL traffic types (commercial versus residential customers) and how it’s routed.
- Determine how record monitoring occurs (SIP records, CDRs, both, or some other method).
- Compare all traffic types to identify and define standards, whenever possible.
Whether called blocking, barring, disabling, stopping, you likely take steps to shut down unwanted call activity. Don’t assume current blocking policies apply to the new traffic.
- Determine all blocking policies to stop fraud as quickly as possible and to avoid unwanted outages for legitimate traffic on the network.
- Identify blocking protocols—manual vs. automated, method of connection (direct switch interface, API, etc.) —and communicate to all.
Every carrier has unique situations and circumstances, which mean different monitoring rules applies (aka business rules, customer profiles, or configurations). A finely-tuned set of monitoring rules for one network is likely not effective at all for another network.
- Evaluate your monitoring rules to ensure effective coverage of ALL traffic and customer types.
- Adjust any necessary configuration settings to account for new network/customers.
Most every fraud practitioner relies on a list of known high-risk, “bad” numbers (hot list, blacklist, hot numbers, etc.) as a tool in their fraud fighting arsenal. A well-managed hot list helps prevent fraud, lost revenue, and duplicate effort across the entire organization.
- Make sourcing and maintaining this list a collaborative effort.
- Merge all versions of the list.
- Standardise the process and criteria required for adding numbers to the list.
- Set and enforce expiration policies for numbers on the list based on activity last seen.
An important component of fraud management is your billing system information. Many times, though, fraud systems get integrated long before the billing systems do. Don’t overlook the billing system feed, as this data helps you properly identify customers and understand the new traffic you’re monitoring. Additionally, your business/monitoring rules are almost certainly dependent on the billing data. Even if the billing systems remain distinct, you should integrate both billing feeds into your fraud system.
Even without M&A, there’s a lot of variance when it comes to who “owns” the fraud department and processes.
- Make sure the departments and roles are clearly defined.
- Establish roles, policies, guidelines, so that you don’t incur losses or miss fraud because everyone thinks someone else has things covered.
- Work together for depth of coverage.
Accurate, up-to-date rates (termination costs) are essential for detecting high-cost destinations. After M&A, ensure your rates reflect the costs of both companies.
CFCA members are very helpful when it comes to fighting fraud, so speak up if you have questions. Many CFCA members have experience with FMS integration after M&A. Your FMS vendor is also a great resource. Ask your FMS provider to recommend the most efficient, cost-effective integration pathway. Rely on their experience navigating this process with other telecom companies to help shorten and streamline your integration timeline. Get the help you need to fortify your defences, especially during a transition, because fraudsters constantly look for a way in.
XConnect provides Global Number Range data to aid fraud prevention, helping with accurate terminations, blocking and hot number lists.