Toll fraud, or theft of long-distance service, is big business in North America. In Canada, it is estimated to be as high as $100 million annually.
What exactly is toll fraud?
Toll fraud is the theft of long-distance service by an unknown third party. The 'thieves' can be 'call sell' operators - groups that steal and sell long-distance for profit, or they can be 'phone phreaks' - hackers who do it for entertainment, and sometimes for profit.
But whether they do it for profit or fun, the effects can be devastating - some businesses have been hit for $25,000 to $30,000 of fraudulent long-distance charges in a single weekend.
Understand the liability
TELUS Long Distance Terms state that if a call has originated with, or passed through a customers' equipment, that customer is responsible for the charges associated with the call, whether the call is authorized or not. This means that if you are the victim of toll fraud, you are liable for the costs.
Tips for protection at home
- Never disclose personal information, and do not send money to people who are unknown to you.
- Do not call back a long distance number or respond to e-mails or letters from people or companies you do not recognize.
- Be cautious about accepting charges for long distance calls; verify who is placing the call, and make sure you understand what type of call you are accepting charges for.
- Check your monthly statement and look for unfamiliar charges or changes.
Calling Card tips
- Protect your calling card number and Personal Identification Number at all times. Treat your calling card like you would your credit card.
- Do not select the same Personal Identification Number (PIN) you use to access your bank account, credit cards, etc.
- Do not write down your Personal Identification Number and leave it in your wallet. Memorize your Personal Identification Number.
- When selecting a Personal Identification Number, do not use sequential numbers or the last four digits of your telephone number.
- Do not lend your calling card to friends, relatives and roommates.
- If you only use your calling card to call home, find out about TELUS In Touch™ service which allows calls only to be made to your home number.
- If using an operator to complete your call, speak directly into the mouthpiece and keep your voice low.
- Block the view of the keypad while entering your calling card number.
- Never give out access codes or calling card numbers when using a wireless phone.
- If your calling card has been lost or stolen, report it immediately by calling TELUS at 1-888-308-2222.
Tips for business protection
- Plan ahead. While a good security program will vastly reduce your risk, it cannot guarantee you won't be hit. Develop procedures to be followed if you suspect your system has been breached. Establish it now, because if you are hit, the toll meter may continue to run while you waste time deciding what to do.
- Knowledge is your best defence. TELUS wants to arm you with as much information as possible to help you avoid toll fraud. These guidelines will not completely eliminate the risk, but they can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of toll fraud.
To report an incident of phone fraud
- Contact your telephone equipment maintainer immediately.
- Call your long-distance provider immediately.
- Report the incident to your local police authority.