The 4-point check you must do to see if your MTN airtime is being stolen

MyBroadband recently conducted an airtime test which found that our MTN SIM was fraudulently subscribed to one of MTN’s content services.

This took place through MSISDN spoofing and header enrichment.

The SIM was subscribed to the WASP without our knowledge, resulting in airtime depleting on a daily basis.

MyBroadband also received numerous reports from readers regarding the same issue.

Following the reporting of these fraudulent subscriptions, MTN SA executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan explained how the mobile operator was combating fraudulent subscriptions.

MyBroadband also discovered that MTN operates four content platforms – making it more difficult for users to screen for WASP subscriptions.

Fraudulent WASP subscriptions

O’Sullivan said that a move to digital marketing initiatives has resulted in a number of new challenges – such as cybercrime and Internet fraud.

“We believe a balance needs to be struck between offering customers ease of access to genuine and value-adding content, while still providing the necessary security protocols.”

O’Sullivan added that a large number of transaction requests occurring through these channels can be fraudulent, although this may vary depending on the market.

“Indicatively in emerging markets, it can be seen that up to 82% of transaction requests can be fraudulent that occur through these cyber channels.”

MTN said this type of fraud occurs through ad-stacking, click-jacking, domain spoofing, MSISDN caching, and malware attacks.

USSD and WASP blocking

MTN said it is also working to improve its USSD stream for content service subscriptions.

The mobile operator has four separate USSD strings for WASP services, each of which needs to be accessed for a user to check if they are subscribed to any WASPs.

These USSD strings are:

  • *136*5#
  • *464*970#
  • *156*12#
  • *123*10#

Users can also block premium-rate service charges, which will result in them blocking subscriptions to content services, premium-rate SMS, premium-rate IVR lines, or premium-rate USSD codes.

This can be done by following these steps:

  1. Dial *136*5#
  2. Select option 2 (Content Services)
  3. Select option 2 (Manage Premium Rated Services)
  4. Select option 2 (PRS Charges)
  5. Select option 1 (Block PRS Charges)

Countermeasures

MTN said it is taking a number of steps to combat the proliferation of WASP subscription fraud.

Additionally, the way customers are prompted for and alerted to charges are changing.

MTN said it now alerts customers of every charge before they are charged for WASP services, and customers can now see content charges on their itemised bills.

MTN added that customers can set their content spend limit so they do not receive any bill shock at the end of the month. This limit is set to R200 by default.

O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that MTN has also suspended all programmatic media buying activities until all fraud prevention measures have been implemented.

Since the implementation of the actions mentioned above, MTN has seen a 38.6% drop in calls related to WASP subscriptions, it has unsubscribed and refunded 5,104 customers from January – August 2018, and has blocked 2,626 applications and 1,677 publishers.

Now read: How my MTN airtime was stolen while my phone was off

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The 4-point check you must do to see if your MTN airtime is being stolen