Cast a wider net over online fraud


Fraud is a sad reality in mobile sales, but high-profile and concerted efforts by dealers, retailers networks and banks seem to have the problem under control. But what about the online retail environment?

Bricks and mortar sales outlets can see customers in the flesh and they can also ask for proofs of ID in the form of utility bills, drivers licence and passport.

But online dealers are at a disadvantage. Their customers are invisible and checks are at arms length.

Thankfully, one line of defence has been set up even before the web site checkout. All the networks employ highly sophisticated checks and balances to prevent fraud at all levels, not just on contracts.

According to senior product and service security manager with Vodafones fraud, risk and security operation Chris Cook, credit checking of customers applying for a contract deal is only a small aspect of Vodafones fraud and security prevention systems.

Every aspect of Vodafones operation is subject to ongoing analysis, he says. This applies to both existing and new products and services, particularly new ones sold through dealers.

As each idea for a new product or service is developed in-house, our fraud, risk and security department is closely involved. We look at all aspects and try to predict how it could be abused and misused, he says.

According to Cook, a classic example is the bundled text deals available on several of the companys contracts. We look at how the offer might be abused. For example, whether the free texts could be used to generate messages to a premium text service line, he says.

We also look at what happens when the customer reaches the 500 inclusive texts a month limit. Would the billing system even charge the customer for extra texts? We look at every aspect of potential usage, even if the service is free. Those free texts still cost us money.

Because of fraud and security issues, Cook says some potential products and services áa