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Solution to ‘free minutes’ scam

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Employees using business phones to earn extra, personal cellular minutes will result in an increase in a company’s telephone bills. But, says GRAEME VICTOR of Du Pont Telecom, simply barring a cellular phone number could have adverse affects on the business.

If your company’s telephone bills have increased significantly in recent months for no apparent reason, it’s time to start monitoring telephone usage in your organisation more effectively.

A growing problem in many companies is employees taking advantage of the promotion by cellular service provider 8ta to earn free minutes when someone calls their cellphone.

In order to earn more free minutes, employees phone their own cellphones through their employers’ Least Cost Routing (LCR) system ‚ and stay connected for long periods.

The promotion gives subscribers one free minute for every three minutes of calls received from a mobile network. LCR devices installed by companies to save on landline to cellphone calls automatically route calls dialled via the company PBX to the most appropriate cellular network. So when employees call their own cellphones from their desk phone, they earn free minutes at their company’s expense.

However, barring calls to all cellphones in an effort to stamp out the ‚free minute‚ practice could result in legitimate business calls being adversely affected. The key to effective call barring is being able to quickly and accurately differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate calls.

In Du Pont’s experience, implementing a Telephone Management System that is programmed to manage employee behaviour (who they can call, where they can call, what network they can call and how long the call lasts) probably results in greater costs in terms of inefficiencies and employee frustration than in actual savings.

After all, it’s not a Telephone Management System that reduces costs ‚ it’s how it is applied that ultimately determines its efficacy.

To deal with the ‚free minutes‚ phenomenon, I recommend that companies install a call management and barring device that is able to analyse each call that passes through the PBX. In this way, anomalies or abuse levels can be identified.

An anomaly could be calls made three, four or more times a day to the same number from the same extension: or calls made regularly to one specific cellphone number that last for an abnormally long time.

Once this type of call behaviour has been identified, calls to that number can be blocked automatically.

For your Telephone Management System or call barring system to deliver any real value to a business, data obtained from the system has to be interpreted and acted upon on an ongoing basis. In this way the dynamic nature of the organisations as well as that of the telephony environment can be accommodated.

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