What is VOIP?
VOIP, which stands for “Voice over IP” encompasses a group of technologies which provides delivery of voice communications over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. VOIP is available as a replacement to public switched network (PSTN) in addition to subscribers using mobile phones, personal computers and other internet access devices. Some of the benefits of VOIP services include low priced or free calling and number portability, while some of the drawbacks include lack of common phone services such as phone directory, 411 and in some cases 911 services.
How Does it Work?
There are several different methods to connect voice services over the internet including using an IP phone, an Analogue Terminal Adapter(ATA), or softphone which is an application installed on an internet connected device. Common examples of IP phones include the Cisco brand phones which can be used with any VOIP service provider, while Analogue Terminal Adapters may be tied to a specific carrier (i.e. magicJack). A VOIP service provider will provide services which complete a phone call using broadband networks that are interfaced with PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)
Fixed vs. Non-Fixed VOIP
With respect to VOIP service providers, there are generally two types of VOIP services, Fixed and Non-Fixed. A client that is using a fixed VOIP service would be associated with a physical location and cannot be obtained from someone that is outside the country. Common fixed VOIP providers include Vonage, BroadVoice , and Cox Communications.
Non-Fixed VOIP services, on the other hand, do not need to be associated with an address and are thus easily obtainable by individuals that are outside the country. Common Non-Fixed VOIP providers include Google Voice and Skype. Fraudsters can take advantage of the ease of registration with Non-Fixed VOIP services to perform elaborate schemes and criminal activity that are untraceable. Identifying suspect phone numbers early that belong to Non-Fixed VOIP providers is an important first step in fraud prevention and protection.