8 Simple Strategies to Counter Wangiri Fraud

Wangiri is not new. Rather, it is one of the most common telecom frauds. In a recent case, a fraudster gave a missed call to several users of different countries. When the users viewed the missed call on their mobiles, they thought that it was a genuine missed call and called the number back. That is where they got tricked! The fraudulent numbers were unusually long and originated from an array of exotic countries. These were premium rated numbers so when the users called back, the fraudster’s intention to extract maximum payment out of them was successful.

In such scenarios, it is not just the subscribers but their operators who also bear the losses. There is both a direct and an indirect loss for the operator. As per the latest CFCA 2017 global fraud loss survey, telcos have lost close to 1 billion USD to wangiri fraud alone, which is quite a lot!

In my point of view, wangiri cannot be eliminated entirely for two main reasons: there is no proper regulation of the carrier business; and the end carrier that terminates the call does not have visibility of the fraudster or whether the call came from a high-risk country. So how can telcos protect revenue and provide great customer experience?

Subscriber Awareness

A pro-active approach to minimize wangiri fraud would involve making the consumers aware of the risk. There are several free apps which can be used to quickly check suspicious numbers. This would tell the customer if the number is a part of any ongoing scams or not. Several fraud management tools are readily available in the market to detect and prevent wangiri.

Customer Experience Management

As the customer is the king of any business, telcos need to manage their customer complaints effectively, which will, in turn, reduce customer churn. All employees in the customer care department should be informed about wangiri and how to manage complaints related to this fraud.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Facility

Whenever a subscriber calls back to a high-risk destination upon receiving a missed call, the operator should have an IVR voice informing him about his called destination. This IVR warning would help the subscriber to decide if they really want to make the call.

Removal of International Calling from Default Subscriber Services

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced a new mechanism to effectively protect the common interest of mobile subscribers. TRAI said that international calling should not be activated on prepaid SIM cards without the explicit approval of the consumer. This measure is awaiting adoption by several other national regulators.

Technology to Alert Customers

To protect customers from phone scams, T-Mobile has rolled out new technology which automatically alerts customers when an incoming call is likely to be a scam. Several vendors offer comparable technological solutions.

Routing Management of Carrier

When a fraudster carries out the wangiri fraud and gives missed calls to multiple subscribers, the increased amount of traffic can be observed by the carrier who routes these calls. If an operator monitors this activity, there will be a repetitive trend of increased traffic observed on the same carrier to route these calls. In such cases, an operator must take necessary precautions to route all the traffic through an alternative carrier. Routing the calls through a different carrier will help in breaking the chain between the fraudster and the linked carrier.

Control Design for Fraud Management Systems

A Fraud Management System (FMS) will assist the discovery of wangiri cases by monitoring the number of calls made by the fraudster. Machine learning can then play a significant role in detecting wangiri frauds more rapidly.

Negative Margin Prevention

Wangiri calls may occur on routes where high costs result in negative margins. When this happens, the number needs to be blocked by the operator immediately in order to protect profits.


I would conclude with a famous quote by Bill Gates:

Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.

Though wangiri fraud will never end completely, the right preventive measures can minimize its impact significantly.

This article was originally published on the Subex blog. It has been reproduced with their permission.

Neha Priyadarshini
Neha Priyadarshini
Neha is a consultant specializing in telecommunications fraud management as part of Subex’s managed services team. She has previously worked with EY and QuEST Global Pvt. Ltd.