Anytime VoIP fraud makes headlines, it is worth taking note. Yesterday, the New York Times featured another article that highlights the potential risk faces by small businesses that employ VoIP to trim costs. Unlike past NYT articles on this topic, however, this one featured my friend from TransNexus, Jim Dalton.
According to the article, thieves stole $166,000 worth of international long distance phone service in a traffic pumping scheme that works this way:
Hackers sign up to lease premium-rate phone numbers, often used for sexual-chat or psychic lines, from one of dozens of web-based services that charge dialers over $1 a minute and give the lessee a cut. In the United States, premium-rate numbers are easily identified by 1-900 prefixes, and callers are informed they will be charged higher rates. But elsewhere, like in Latvia and Estonia, they can be trickier to spot. The payout to the lessees can be as high as 24 cents for every minute spent on the phone.
Premium number toll fraud is just one of the ways that VoIP hackers can harm a small business. As I have posted about before, VoIP fraud is a large and growing problem that can affect any small business that uses a PBX. Small business can incur tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in liability over a weekend.
Unlike some of the providers mentioned in the article, SkySwitch white label VoIP providers can avoid potential liability thanks to advanced balance monitoring systems that alert a hosted PBX provider to potential problems due to out-of-the-ordinary usage, and can suspend service if usage exceeds a pre-determined level.