|RCMP, Solicitor General, and Stentor Join Forces to Fight Telecom Fraud|
OTTAWA, June 23, 1997 /CNW/ - Canada is set to strengthen its effectiveness in the fight against an invisible form of organized crime: telecommunications fraud. On June 23-24, in a cooperative effort among the RCMP, the Solicitor General of Canada and Stentor (the Alliance of Canada's telecommunications companies), officers from specialized RCMP units across the country will participate in a two-day seminar and explore ways to stop criminals from capitalizing on an industry in perpetual change.
"There is a common misconception in the marketplace," says Brian Oickle, director of Fraud Control at Stentor, "that telecommunications fraud is a victimless crime. In fact, there is a direct financial impact on consumers, business and the Canadian economy as a whole. Consumers and businesses have to protect their dial-tones."
Telecommunications fraud comes in two main forms: telemarketing fraud where the telephone is simply used as the medium to commit the offense, and telecom fraud which is essentially the theft of dialtone. Once a criminal gains access to a dial tone (through unprotected systems), they have carte- blanche calling to anywhere in the world -- unless precautions are taken.
Canada is actually more effective in blocking criminals from the country's telephone systems than the United States. It is impossible to pinpoint real figures because of the nature of the crime but the best estimates put total North American losses in the area of $3-4 billion, and a relatively less ominous $100 million in Canada.
Canada's success can be attributed to a combination of its advanced telecommunications network and the continued sharing of ideas among government, law enforcement and industry.
"This two-day seminar isn't a solution on its own," says RCMP superintendent George Kaine. "We would like to see an on-going program where all three parties can share their expertise from prevention right through to prosecution. Changes in technology happen every day and it is critical that we as a law enforcement agency not only keep up, but that we stay ahead of the criminals."
The three organizations have already found tremendous benefit in working together. It was at the September 1996 National Forum on Organized Crime where the idea for this seminar was born.
This seminar represents a tangible result from the national forum. Telecommunications fraud is complex and cooperation among the government, law enforcement community and industry is vital in order to combat this shared threat.
The two-day session opens at 8:15 a.m. on Monday, June 23, with public statements from all three organizations.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS FRAUD: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Business have a great deal more control over their telecommunications services today than ever before. New technologies provide businesses more information and more flexibility in how they use their telecommunications services. Unfortunately, the shift in control has led to an increase in toll fraud by making businesses and telephone companies more susceptible to toll fraud. This material has been prepared to answer questions and to provide helpful information and advice on how businesses can avoid and combat toll fraud.
Can voice mail systems be used for toll-fraud?
Yes. Some voice mail systems may have features that provide a link to a PBX remote access feature or that give a caller a dial tone after the main voice mail function has finished. These features can be used to make outgoing calls that will be billed to the voice mail user or PBX owner. Unauthorized people may attempt to use a voice mail system to arrange third number billing to the telephone number served by the system.
Is my private branch exchange (PBX) safe from fraud?
No. Businesses using PBX equipment may become victims of toll fraud through the remote access features of their equipment. Remote access features allow business employees who are away from the office to call the PBX. After entering an authorization code, the employee receives a new dial tone for placing an outgoing call. The call will be billed to the outgoing telephone line connected to the PBX. This feature creates the opportunity for unauthorized users to breach the security of your business phone system.
Are incidents of toll-fraud higher during a particular time of the year?
Yes. The risk of toll fraud increases during vacation and year-end holiday seasons. Businesses should take exceptional care at these times to avoid additional risks.
What steps can businesses take to help protect their systems?
Contact your equipment vendor, your local telephone company, and your long distance telephone company. They may be able to provide information to help you determine what sorts of security systems are available to protect your equipment and telephone service from toll fraud. They can also provide information about monitoring services that are available to help you quickly detect unusual usage.
The Stentor alliance was formed in 1992 by Canada's leading providers of telecommunications services. These companies maintain the world's longest, fully digital fibre-optic network.
The members of the alliance are: BC TEL, Bell Canada, Island Tel, Manitoba Telecom Services, Maritime Tel & Tel, NBTel, NewTel Communications, NorthwesTel, QuébecTel, SaskTel and TELUS.