Working Virtually Non-stop to Combat Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud!

The 2020 Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud Workshop provided a unique opportunity for Somos to bring key industry leaders together to have an open discussion around Toll-Free fraud mitigation and prevention. 

While the current COVID-19 pandemic might have slowed down some sectors and industries, unfortunately, for the bad actors of the world, it’s presented a whole new platform on which to scam consumers and innocent bystanders. As a thought leader in the Toll-Free Industry, Somos makes every effort to educate the industry on new and trending topics in fraud such as what common scams look like, how they can be prevented and what we are doing to contribute in the fight against traffic pumping and fraud. Toll-Free Numbers are valuable assets to businesses, brands and consumers, which is why it’s of the utmost importance that we do everything we can to ensure integrity and drive trust. 

The workshop opened with a presentation by Kevin Rupy of Wiley Rein, LLP who provided an overview of the recently enacted TRACED Act.  For those who are not familiar, the TRACED Act was implemented to help protect the integrity of phone calls including those made from Toll-Free Numbers. By prioritizing the industry-wide implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, the TRACED Act seeks to decrease Toll-Free traffic pumping and prevent fraudsters and scammers from obtaining Toll-Free Numbers (TFNs). In his talk, Kevin focused on a number of important topics around the TRACED Act including implementation, reporting, regulation and enforcement.

Staying on the topic of STIR/SHAKEN, the workshop continued with an overview of STIR/SHAKEN presented by Somos’ Mary Retka, Vice President of Industry Relations, and Justen Davis, Senior Director of Industry Relations, including how it works, why it’s important and how it helps to support the Federal Communications Commission’s fight against illegal robocalls. The two further discussed how the STIR/SHAKEN framework specifically applies to the Toll-Free industry and what steps Somos is taking to ensure that Toll-Free call processing follows proper STIR/SHAKEN protocol.

Next, the workshop welcome backed Lois Greisman, Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Kristi Thompson, Division Chief, Enforcement Bureau’s Telecommunications Consumer Division for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a dedicated Fireside Chat. The two discussed some of the biggest issues related to tracking down fraudsters, mitigating fraud and, most importantly, protecting consumers. As fraudsters get more and more creative, Lois and Kristi discussed the increased collaborative efforts that have been taken by multiple agencies to combat traffic pumping and fraud and further prosecute wrongdoers. 

A lot of people are very focused on fixing the problem.

As both experts noted, these are issues that are affecting everyone – and even more so as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak – and require the attention and contributions of government agencies, industry members, carriers and more if we are to rid nefarious activity on Toll-Free Numbers.

A large reason why it’s important to work together is to achieve our end goal – to protect customers. Stacy Graham, Director of Fraud Management and International Product for Inteliquent, spoke specifically to this topic in her presentation titled Know Your Customer: The Resp Org Experience. Stacy’s key message was that before we can really attack the problem and take action, we need to know who exactly who our customers are and implement policies and procedures that safeguard them and all consumers. Through research, tracking, training and reporting, Inteliquent was able to improve the customer experience while mitigating fraudulent behavior.

The workshop ended with a Toll-Free Traffic Pumping Update presented by the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA). Speaking on behalf of CFCA was Terrance Powell, Fraud Management Operations for CenturyLink, and Adam Panagia, Director of Network Fraud Investigations for AT&T. The two started with an overview of what is traffic pumping and why it is a real problem that negatively affects the Toll-Free industry. In their discussion, Terry and Adam further looked at the potential impacts of traffic pumping including operational and financial consequences as well as possible recourses that can be enacted to mitigate traffic pumping. Additionally, they offered insight on how to quickly identify violating calls and shut them down.

At the end of the 3-hour workshop, everyone could agree – traffic pumping and fraud are issues that need to be monitored and proactively prevented. Somos was pleased to have the opportunity to partner with industry experts and drive the conversation around finding a solution. 

Responsible Organizations can access a recording of the webinar and a copy of the presentation deck by logging into the Somos Portal Website.

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.


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