Businesses across the UK are falling victim to telephone fraud and PBX hacking, which is estimated to cost companies £1bn a year; and it’s on the increase.

Fraudsters exploit loopholes in business telephone systems to rack up call charges, leaving unsuspecting companies liable for bills that can run into thousands of pounds. Once criminals have accessed a telephone network, they have been typically known to make international or premium rate calls (09 numbers) at £1.50 per minute.  This activity can go undetected for many days or even weeks.  Most importantly, because all the calls have been made using a company’s telephone lines, the business is liable and has to pay the bill.

“Attacking business’ telephone systems is a high profit low risk activity. A hacker will normally link together several unprotected telephone systems, making tracing the calls almost impossible. They generate profit by dialing premium rated telephone numbers; these are usually of the international variety.  The profits they can make from these attacks are alarming and have the potential to bankrupt the target.”

Just consider, if one phone line can generate a £5.00 per minute call charge and an attack starts at 5.01 pm on a Friday and goes undetected until 9.01 am on a Monday morning, that’s 3840 minutes at £5.00 per minute, totaling a charge of £19,200.  Now, if your system can generate 10 outbound calls that figure could increase to £192,000.

Only recently a retail company in Blackburn was hit with a £6,000 telephone bill they had to pay.

Talking about how to combat the issue of telephone fraud, “Company owners need to work closely with telephone service providers to help ensure every step possible is taken to protect their business telephone systems. Regularly check the user name and password for remote access to your business telephone systems – Ensure you have strong passwords that are confidential to your business. It’s also important to make sure your telephone extensions are barred from making calls to premium rate numbers.  Small businesses often choose not to put restrictions in on the phones but locking this down can prevent fraudulent attacks and misuse by staff.”

But the above is just a start, it is also recommended to consider a voice firewall solution which is a software based control application which really can lock things down and tighten your security, if you wouldn’t consider accessing the Internet without a firewall to protect you why not your telephones?

Finally some network providers will now offer you a small monthly fee per line to provide an insurance policy to cover your large phone bill if you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to telephone fraud.

Security is a growing concern for us all and if you don’t want to leave it too late and are looking for some free advice then contact us on 0345 389 2310 and we’ll be happy to help you protect your business.

If you would like to learn more about protecting your business against Telephone Fraud, please contact us on 0800 50 533 50. Alternatively, you can visit our Cloud telephone systems page for more information about this fantastic technology.

Visit the Ofcom website here for useful help and advice about making use of landline, mobile, internet services, and guidance on what to do if things go wrong.