MWC 2021: GSMA beefs up efforts to fight fake phone calls

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Telecoms industry body GSMA says it has expanded its fraud prevention services portfolio to introduce technology to combat robo-calling and fraudulent phone calls.

The GSMA has joined forces with software company Mobileum to develop a global system targeting the prevention of fraudulent and unwanted calls, with a trial phase of the project open for industry players.

The announcement was made today at Mobile World Congress 2021, by GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair. He cited a report by the US Federal Communications Commission, which estimates fraudulent robocall schemes cost the nation’s citizens $10 billion per year.

The new system, embedded into a consumer’s mobile phone, will target inter-connect, robo-calling and other unwanted calls.

A robo-call can be described as a phone call that uses a computerised auto-dialler to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot. They are often associated with political and telemarketing phone campaigns.

Fraudulent phone calls, also known as vishing, are a social engineering attack that happens when a criminal passes themselves off as a call centre employee to solicit sensitive information from the victim.

“Robo-calling or fraudulent calls are a challenge faced by citizens globally, which is why we’re calling on telecom operators – mobile, fixed-line, Internet-based and wholesalers – to share their insights and experience so we can together locate and mitigate these sources of fraudulent activity,” noted Sinclair.

The joint initiative will trial a series ofartificial intelligence-based technologies and tools, using real fraud incidents, which will help limit a wide variety of fraud and nuisance calls. These include:

  • Case handling – allowing multiple networks to work on a problem.
  • Call path tracing – to find the source of a call when that source is disguised.
  • Live threat monitoring and alerts – providing a real-time view and warnings about active fraud campaigns.
  • Network identifier address book – providing an authenticated list of network identifiers.
  • Call validation – to confirm the provenance of a call.

The new initiative supplements the GSMA’s recently refreshed high-risk numbers and fraud intelligence services, which it says are part of the telecoms body’s broader fraud and security work under the GSMA Telecommunication Information Sharing and Analysis Centre.

“By combining the industry’s collective intelligence and locally-based information with our latest technology, we can deliver game-changing support to tackle fraud,” said Rui Paiva, chief of risk management business at Mobileum.

“Our cloud-native platform provides the necessary tools to make a material difference, delivering the results and improvements everybody wants.”

Companies that wish to participate in the trial are invited to contact the GSMA Services Fraud & Security team.

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