Somos Leads the Charge to Educate on Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud

Fri, 05/25/2018

Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud? Not in our backyard, bad actors!

The 2018 Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud Workshop provided a unique opportunity for Somos to bring key industry leaders together to have an open discussion around this controversial topic. As a thought leader in the Toll-Free Industry, Somos was excited to be at the forefront of educating the industry on topics such as what common scams look like, how they can be prevented, and most importantly, what we, as a neutral, trusted administrator for Toll-Free, are doing to contribute in the fight against traffic pumping and fraud.

A key takeaway from the third annual workshop was simple – we need to work together to recognize and share best practices. This was made especially clear by Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Associate Director Lois Greisman, who leads the FTC’s Marketing Practices Division. In her session titled “View from the FTC,” Lois discussed imposter fraud and different ways the FTC is combatting the practice and promoting consumer trust and advocacy. She made it clear that this problem affects the entire ecosystem – not just one entity – and how important it was that we work together to find a solution.

This message was further illustrated by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Enforcement Bureau Deputy Chief Kristi Thompson. In her dissection of the Adrian Abramovich story, a robocaller that was fined $120 million by the FCC, she noted how the cooperation of the industry as a whole was instrumental to help bring down one of the largest illegal robocalling campaigns that the Commission has ever investigated. As much as enforcement is a key approach to combatting traffic pumping and fraud, Kristi noted how the FCC is very careful to strike an even balance to ensure that they are both promoting technological advancements and innovation as well as preventing overregulation.

To further illustrate enforcement in action, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Patrick Armor shared how Toll-Free industry cooperation has helped the FBI put together a case against a Toll-Free traffic pumper. The current case is a great example of how working together and information sharing has helped to combat Tolle-Free traffic pumping and fraud.  In fact, Special Agent Armor indicated that he hoped that there would likely be an indictment soon. As a call-to-action, he asked that Responsible Organizations (Resp Orgs) share with him actual monetary damages caused by illegal Toll-Free traffic pumping.

Alongside the FTC, FCC, and FBI, the workshop featured a veritable slate of industry speakers. Among the speakers was Catherine Palcic, Manager, Strategic Industry Relations & Public Policy, of Somos. Catherine shared some of the many successes Somos has had in preventing Toll-Free fraud including getting over 2,000 fraudulent Toll-Free Numbers taken offline with the help of Somos’s Resp Org customers. In addition to Catherine, Adam Panagia, Director at AT&T of Global Fraud Management Organization, and Gary Beaulieu, Manager at AT&T of Telecom Fraud Investigations, covered the different types of traffic pumping and fraud that they’ve been seeing at AT&T. They likewise took a deep dive into some of the steps AT&T were taking to prevent robocalls and fraud, including disconnecting fraudulent numbers.

At the end of the workshop, everyone could agree – traffic pumping and fraud are issues of note in the Toll-Free Industry that need to be monitored and proactively prevented. Somos was pleased to have the opportunity to continue our role as a consumer advocate and drive the conversation around finding a solution. We look forward to continuing to empower the Toll-Free industry by providing thought leadership and a platform for continued discussions around keeping Toll-Free a safe, trustworthy, and dependable way for businesses and organizations to connect to their customers.