Mobile Corporate Theft

An Old Problem with New Implications

Corporations have always wrestled with intentional and inadvertent employee theft of corporate resources. Substantially different than a generation ago when post-it notes and pens were the target of sticky fingers,corporatetheft the introduction of high-priced wireless devices and the growing set of data-hungry apps has significantly blurred the boundaries between personal and business assets making the impact of stealing in the work place of far greater financial impact.

Mobile technology, in particular smartphones, have become increasingly ubiquitous in business environments.  The advent of smartphones and tablets, along with the explosion of mobile applications has brought an enormous possibility for improvement of productivity.  Today we have applications for just about everything we need both in our business and personal lives which has obscured the lines of work life balance.  Because of this, we now have new challenges when it comes to usage consumption and why forward-thinking companies have clarified their expectations of acceptable usage by adopting clear and concise mobile policies for business and non-business use.

Even if employees are not mobile cost experts, the preponderance of employees are typically good corporate citizens.  The rapid growth of mobility solutions has exposed a broad spectrum of mobile theft opportunities ranging from purely intentional acts to uneducated behaviors and actions with expensive company consequences.

Intentional Theft

There are those who deliberately seek to line their pockets with extra company money.  In other words, there are those who seek to benefit financially from the lack of vigilant company oversight. One scheme involved the reselling of retired, older mobile assets that fell below the radar of a company’s asset tracking systems. Even more nefarious are cases involving telecom administrators who take opportunistic advantage of unused upgrade credits on zero use devices to feed their side businesses of selling new smartphones to friends at a tidy 100% profit. This sham unraveled when the company was blind-sided by the large early termination fees it generated when those zero use phone lines were eventually terminated.

Another unethical ploy involves enterprising employees who take advantage of management’s inattention to their indistinguishable data usage buried deep in a pooled sea of other corporate users. This scheme involves the use of company smartphones deployed as hotspot devices to accommodate free home internet services.

Semi-intentional Theft

Sometimes there are unforeseen consequences of an employee’s actions not resulting from premediated fraudulent intentions such as distracted employees’ frequent use of social media at work. They may not consider their non-productive hours as stealing from their employer but if an employee is being paid for eight hours but spends one hour a day browsing social media or streaming videos, this is effectively a theft of time and wages. Making matters worse is the fact that these types of activities are not only impacting productivity but they are also accumulating personal charges on the corporate mobile invoices. Other employees may choose to subvert their company firewall restrictions on their office computers by using their smartphones to access restricted sites during break time.

Inadvertent Theft

The final category relates to actions of innocence where employees are unaware their data usage patterns are accruing unneeded employer expenses. For example, not connecting to WIFI at work and at home can dramatically increase billable mobile usage and cost. Misunderstandings of well-intentioned employees can grossly underestimate the actual data transfer totals for actions such as downloading a video or streaming audio for extended periods of time even if such actions are not expressly prohibited in company mobile policy use.  Then there are those examples of employees who do not regularly travel internationally who are greeted with significant international roaming charges; a slight misstep on a cruise ship can result in thousands of dollars of embarrassing and costly overages. While the resulting cost of these activities are not pre-planned, there is an increasing cost to companies who lack mobile policies and oversight.

With too few resources to manually inspect monthly mobile invoices, the opportunity to inadvertently misappropriate company funds is highly possible and far too often goes unnoticed by companies who lack the necessary reporting analytics.

What can be done to mitigate this type of corporate risk?    Companies must be vigilant and inspect, inspect again and re-inspect to discover fraud as well as invest time in developing, publishing and enforcing comprehensive corporate mobile policies.   With years of experience in providing mobile monitoring capabilities to deter fraud, theft and unintentional waste, MobilSense is ready to help your company protect and control your mobile assets and their monthly carrier costs.

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