The telecoms industry is facing more advanced fraudulent attacks involving illegitimate SMS notifications and call-back requests. This is called Artificially Inflated Traffic (AIT), and it is a challenge that will continue to drain organisation’s revenue streams if it isn’t addressed.
AIT occurs when bots generate one-time passcode or call-back requests. Fraudsters use premium rate and ghost numbers to incur inflated charges by triggering an A2P or call-back request, which is then sent via a high-cost route to rack up increased fees. This allows rogue mobile network operators (MNOs) or another rogue party, who receives revenue share, to profit from the increased charges.
The impact of AIT is far-reaching and has a detrimental effect on the overall trust in the telecoms ecosystem. Without proper validation processes in place, it has the potential to undermine the reputation of A2P SMS and voice as legitimate communications channels.
Understanding AIT Tactics
AIT is a term that covers a wide range of fraud types – artificially generated traffic, artificially inflated traffic, and traffic trashing – and is a growing trend in the telecoms industry. With organisations now experiencing rising levels of AIT fraud, they need to be aware of where these fraud instances come from and what damage it causes to business operations.
There are several forms of AIT that organisations need to be aware of:
- External Attacks – Threat actors target web services such as online forms and apps that generate real A2P SMS and call-back requests. The traffic is sent from a user’s normal system and the messages have no abnormal content. An attack and the result of a marketing campaign or expansion into a new market can have almost identical traffic patterns, however, the organisation will be charged for fraudulent message termination, and resources will be wasted on illegitimate leads that hinder revenue streams and business operations.
- SMS Trashing – SMS trashing occurs via the non-delivery of paid-for messages. This type of fraud takes place when a rogue aggregator quotes an organisation a price for delivering a text, such as an A2P notification. This quoted price will be attractive to organisations as it is less than the price set by the MNO, but ultimately the text will go undelivered. The results are lost revenue for MNOs and the organisation that paid the rogue aggregator, as well as damaged consumer trust.
- Falsified Transactions – AIT can give the impression that organisations have generated plenty of new business opportunities when none of them are real transactions. Organisations artificially inflate traffic to give the appearance that conversion rate targets have been met when in reality this traffic is fraudulent. This causes further harm in the long run as the organisation still ends up paying out for this fake traffic that has no prospect of converting into real business.
How Can Your Organisation Fight Back?
AIT tactics will continue to impact the voice and A2P services of more and more businesses. Fighting back against this growing risk requires special attention to the security of web pages and the proactive deployment of accurate and trustworthy number information.
By using the right combination of Number Information Services, such as Global Number Range (GNR), Mobile Number Portability (MNP), and subscriber Live Status data, companies can save costs, drive trust, and ensure they are maximising efficiency within their voice and messaging operations.
Deploying GNR, MNP and Status data enables you to validate a call or message before routing, providing reassurance that you’re only delivering to legitimate requests. This means that you can gain full transparency into your traffic by managing how it’s being delivered.
XConnect’s intelligent datasets provide a simple solution to help overcome routing and quality challenges. Our customers typically see that 10% of requests can be eliminated as fraudulent or incorrect numbers, and more if they also check subscriber status.
Restoring Trust in Voice and A2P Messaging
The only way to deliver quality is to have end-to-end visibility of the routes your traffic is on. This is a concept that’s been critical in the A2P and voice markets for some time, but with the increase in AIT fraud, it is now becoming more critical than ever.
Pre-validating the traffic in their systems enables organisations to minimise damaging losses. Implementing reliable GNR, MNP and, Status data will ultimately restore trust within the industry and reduce the costs associated with fraud.
For more information on how you can arm your business against AIT, download our whitepaper here.