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Burning Down the House: How Prepaid Phones Are Dominating Fraud

September 6, 2018

Telesign Team
cell phone on fire representing a burner cell phone

Whether you know it or not, you have crossed paths with a burner phone before. Perhaps you were trying to purchase aftermarket tickets to a concert or received a call from a strange number in a phishing scam. Maybe you just walked down the aisle at the convenience store where they are sold. Regardless, burner phones (affordable mobile phones loaded with prepaid minutes for temporary use) are part of our lives and they are a major problem.

The quarterly RSA fraud report came out recently and it essentially validated what we’ve long warned customers about at Telesign; these burner phones are heavily linked to fraudulent transactions. In Q2 of 2018 80% of fraudulent e-commerce transactions came from a “new device” and 32% of total fraud volume observed in Q2 came the combination of a new device ad new account.  Furthermore, these assumed burner devices accounted for 27% of the total value of all fraudulent payments compared to just 0.4% legitimate transactions.

Fighting Back

Fortunately, the threats posed by these devices have long been on the Telesign radar. Our PhoneID technology was built to fight back. Our API can evaluate phone numbers provided at account registration or during a transaction attempt and report back phone type (Fixed Lines, Mobile, Prepaid Mobile, Toll-Free, Non-Fixed VOIP, Pager, Payphone, Invalid, Restricted Number, Personal, Voicemail, or Other) and device status (Service status, Contract type, Account tenure, Primary account holder) data that helps protect you and your users from unnecessary risk, so you don’t get burned.

Think of us as bouncers for your digital nightclub because your legitimate users won’t even notice this extra layer of protection. When a bad user attempts to interact with your web or mobile app from a risky device type, we’ll use our access to carrier data to give you the heads up to block them. Good users with trusted phone types and device info, they can get the red-carpet treatment.

Learn More

Give us a call and learn about how we can save you from the wildfires of fraud, because no one likes to be taken advantage of, especially by a twenty-dollar cell phone.