A Single Fraudulent Call Cost a Major Retailer $400,000. Here’s What It Did Next.

What’s the News: A customer service callback feature that gives consumers the option to no longer remain on hold has become a target for telephone fraud—resulting in a major retailer getting charged $400K for just one phone call.
Why it Matters: Retailers and other businesses lose an average of $1.82 billion annually to callback fraud, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association. That could be a conservative estimate, considering that many businesses don’t publicly disclose their fraud losses. This estimate also doesn’t include lost sales and other bottom-line impacts that occur when organizations take a common but wrong approach to thwarting additional fraud.
Who’s it for: Retailers, call centers, government agencies and any other organizations that want to provide people with the convenient option of leaving a callback number instead of staying on hold.

Consumers get frustrated when their call is answered with an automated message explaining that they’re twelfth in line for the next agent, or that their estimated wait time is 20 minutes. To avoid this frustration—and the potential for lost sales—many retailers, government agencies and other organizations now provide people with the option of leaving a callback number instead of staying on hold.

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“Its trial of TruNumber Protect also shows how the right fraud-prevention tools can improve operational efficiency and safely open the door to even more customer engagement options.”

But that same customer-friendly option also opens the door to fraudsters, who can leave International Premium Rate Numbers (IPRNs) which for callbacks look like standard telephone numbers but result in steep charges when customer service agents use them to call back customers. In fact, retailers and other businesses on average lose $1.82 billion annually to callback fraud, according to the Communications Fraud Control Association.

A newly released iconectiv use case describes how one major retailer that lost $400,000 in a single callback fraud incident, opted to address the issue by banning all callbacks to the country where the fraud originated before realizing that there were other, less extreme and more customer-first options available. While banning the callbacks may have helped stop the phone fraud issue, it inadvertently undermined their customer experience, sales and brand reputation. A targeted approach, which identifies the IPRN and flags it as fraud, would have completely mitigated this incident.

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What the retailer did next shows how businesses, government agencies and other organizations can provide the convenience of callbacks while proactively thwarting fraud before it results in six-figure surprises. The use case explains how the retailer trialed iconectiv® TruNumber Protect which features a comprehensive, continually updated database of high-risk and unallocated telephone number ranges worldwide, that enables retailers to:

  • Automatically identify calls as high-risk numbers such as IPRNs, as well as thwart other types of fraud, such as one-ring “wangiri” scams and PBX hacking.
  • Integrate the service with its existing fraud-management tools and processes so its fraud team can quickly and easily decide which traffic to block and monitor.
  • Enable its customer experience and fraud and risk mitigation teams to work more efficiently and effectively and deliver innovative options to boost consumer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

“This retailer’s experience is both a cautionary tale and an inspiring road map for how businesses, government agencies and other organizations can thwart fraudsters while protecting their brand, bottom-line and customer experience,” said Peter Ford, Executive Vice President, Information Solutions Business at iconectiv. “Its trial of TruNumber Protect also shows how the right fraud-prevention tools can improve operational efficiency and safely open the door to even more customer engagement options.”

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