This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Tim Ward, VP Number Information Services at XConnect
Even Twitter isn’t immune to Application to Person (A2P) fraud, according to Elon Musk. In December Musk said telcos were using bots to generate $60 million worth of fraudulent text messages within a year. In response to this, he shut down all telcos that have fraud above 10 percent, impactinglegitimate Twitter users.
While Musk’s response removed the risk of fraud, it also meant that valid traffic was blocked as a result, causing knock-on effects on revenues. Organisations need to proactively stop spoofed A2P messaging traffic with accurate phone number data. This means ensuring the delivery of legitimate traffic whilst protecting profit margins from fraud.
The most comprehensive way to verify if a message is coming from a valid number is to have a database of global numbers and be able to verify if they originate from real users in near real-time.
The Scale of Spoofed Messages
A2P fraud is a widespread challenge that poses a substantial threat to organisation’s revenue streams. Around 30 mobile carriers, mostly in eastern Asia, were all blocked from Twitter as part of Musk’s attempt to limit spam. Left unchecked, this type of fraud will continue to put legitimate A2P traffic and revenue at risk and may end up causing irreversible damage to the reputation of SMS as a communications channel.
High-stake revenue streams are an attractive target for fraudsters and need to be protected from the latest methods of attack. Organisations need to be aware of different ways that fraudsters threaten their margins, including Artificial Inflation of Traffic (AIT). AIT takes place when cybercriminals exploit online services, like Twitter, to generate fake traffic using bots. These instances take place when an SMS service provider or mobile network operator (MNO) collaborates with a fraudster to pump high amounts of invalid traffic through an online service to increase their revenue.
This is achieved through deploying a bot to access the targeted website and creating an account which then requests a one-time password (OTP) to a mobile number. The bot then repeats this process with thousands of accounts, generating A2P messages to thousands of numbers. This results in organisations paying out for fake traffic that has no prospect of being converted into real business.
Organisations must act now to not only secure their revenues, but also mitigate A2P fraud from the telecoms industry and restore trust in SMS.
Securing the A2P Stream
As business messaging spend grows, organisations must ensure that they are focusing on the validity of their traffic. Organisations have an opportunity to differentiate their offerings and create new competitive advantages with global number intelligence. This requires an intelligent data solution to get their messages delivered accurately, quickly, and right first the time.
The right data solution will allow organisations to rapidly identify legitimate traffic based on a mobile phone number. It will help eliminate fraud and avoid costly losses by establishing whether a number range is valid and allocated to a provider.
Deploying global number range (GNR) data can be one of the simplest and fastest ways to pre-validate A-numbers. This means organisations no longer have to block potentially valid traffic, reducing the risk of losing out on legitimate business and immediately delivering return on investment (ROI).
GNR data will verify if a number belongs to a valid number range, if it is the correct format (correct length, country code, etc.). For organisations looking to tackle fraudulent A2P traffic, this means guaranteed and rapid A2P SMS delivery that increases accuracy and security. They no longer need to manage complex data sets. Instead, organisations can rely on up-to-date telecoms data to solve challenges and optimise operations.
By leveraging GNR data, organisations gain access to complete, accurate and up-to-date number plan information. With the right solution, no software development or large-scale integrations are required, meaning that data can be deployed quickly and rapidly achieve ROI. GNR data enables organisations to rapidly pre-validate phone numbers via a simple API connection, to ensure they can rapidly incorporate new data sets into existing systems with ease.
With new levels of visibility into operations, organisations can focus their time and efforts on creating more meaningful interactions, capturing a greater number of sales, and driving bigger revenue streams.
A Bot-Free Future
Deploying GNR is just the first step in fighting A2P fraud. To restore trust in the industry, A2P SMS aggregators have to ensure they are helping organisations, platform providers and application developers.
To stay ahead, organisations need to innovate quickly and optimise their technical operations. Flexible access to high quality number information services enables that optimisation and allows them to focus their energy on market innovation and routing optimisation.
When organisations have the right data and processes underpinning their A2P functions, only then will they be ready to focus their efforts on maximising revenues based on legitimate and verified traffic. In an increasingly crowded market, data give businesses the competitive advantage.
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