Roaming fraud could cost mobile operators USD $5 billion globally in 2009 because of a failure to implement detection measures.

That’s the warning from James Stewart, director of fraud product management at MACH and chairman of the roaming sub-group of the GSMA fraud forum.

He said that many operators around the world have yet to comply with near-real time roaming data exchange (NRTRDE) recommendations – making it likely that fraud will shift to those who are less well protected.

But he said that carriers could not afford to neglect security measures, even in the current economic situation.

"Perpetrators of roaming fraud rely on poor operator visibility and slow inter-operator processes to profit at the operators’ expense," said Stewart.

"Many operators are re-evaluating the use of their existing fraud detection measures, looking for ways to reduce expenditure.

"Their margins are under pressure from increasing roaming tariff regulation and competition but they cannot afford to increase their exposure to fraud and their subscribers will not accept any disruption to service caused by fraud prevention."

Stewart said MACH clears two out of every three roaming calls on GSM and CDMA networks and settles more than 60 per cent of global inter-operator wholesale invoice amounts.

The company has over 300 NRTRDE clients, and a growing Fraud Protection client base that is doubling every six months.

Stewart said that minimising mobile fraud losses involves the rigorous execution of four key disciplines:

  • timely visibility
  • quick analysis
  • intelligent investigation
  • rapid action

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