Toll Free Traffic Pumping

Toll free traffic pumping is a growing problem in the telecom industry. What is it, and how does it work?

According to recently released documents from the Cyber Division of the FBI, toll free traffic pumping is the abuse of toll free numbers, where a computer/server is utilized to artificially generate calls to toll free numbers. The Calling Party Numbers (the numbers making the calls) are spoofed and the duration of these calls varies greatly. The duration of the calls is largely dependent on the terminating equipment of the toll free number and its configuration.

For example, calls answered live will usually be “dead air” calls, where the called party hangs up in a relatively short time period due to no response. Calls that are answered by auto attendants, or interactive voice response units, may have calls with a tone or music playing with durations as long as 600 minutes.

Fraudsters make money with this scheme by using revenue share agreements. The fraudsters, or traffic pumpers, are typically several carriers behind a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC), who offers a share of the revenue paid by the toll free service providers for connecting toll free calls to their networks.

Symptoms of toll free traffic pumping include dead air calls, calls where the content is repeated,large increases in monthly charges, and increased traffic over evenings and weekends (when on one is in the office).

If you have experienced the above indicators of toll free traffic pumping, please report the incident to your telecommunications provider and file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at For more on telecom fraud, and prevention tools, go here.