Wangiri Re-Purposed to Target Customer Contact Centers

The well known telco fraud technique known as “Wangiri” is increasingly being used to target call centers, says Chris Drake, CTO, iconectiv.

It’s based on a loophole within the customer service practice of busy call centers – a caller can leave their number for a call back if all the operators are engaged on other calls.

Fraudsters exploit this common business practice to trigger call backs to premium rate numbers. The costs of the call and the evidence that it happened is often lost within a large monthly or quarterly bill, he says.

This latest development is a variation on the well-known wangiri (Japanese for “one and cut”) fraud where ordinary customers receive a call which hangs up almost immediately, encouraging them to dial back to an expensive number.

In this case, however, the call is to a business, and the automated call handling system is giving the caller the option to request a call back instead of waiting on hold for a human operator. The fraudsters exploit this option to encourage a long call to a premium rate number.

Businesses need to be alert to such scams, which can be prevented by setting system rules to block premium rate number call backs or numbers to unlikely foreign destinations. This will need to be under constant review – retrospectively identifying the most expensive outgoing calls and updating system rules accordingly will stop future calls to those numbers.

Marianne Curphey
Marianne Curphey
Marianne Curphey is an award-winning freelance writer, blogger and columnist. She is a former Editor of Guardian Money online, City News Editor of The Guardian, Insurance Correspondent of The Times and Deputy Personal Finance Editor at The Times.