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Telcos tackle mobile number fraud and identity theft


16 October 2019

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today welcomed newly implemented measures to tackle mobile number fraud—the gateway to identity theft.

Mobile number fraud occurs when scammers steal personal details to gain control of a person’s phone number.

“Mobile number fraud can have devastating effects as scammers can gain access to bank accounts, email, social media and more,” said ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron.

“Identity theft has long-term ramifications as victims struggle to regain control over personal and financial information often over years.”

In March this year the ACMA announced a Scam Technology Project to explore ways to disrupt scam activity on telco networks and commenced work with industry on preventing mobile number fraud.

The first outcome of this work is the establishment by Communications Alliance of new measures for use when telcos are transferring mobile phone numbers. These measures include the use of two-factor authentication, which involves an additional ID check such as use of a code sent to a consumer that they then use to verify their identity.

The largest telco providers and most major resellers have now voluntarily implemented the measures in a significant step for the security of telephone numbers.

“I congratulate Communications Alliance and its members for developing these stricter security measures, but more is required. We know that some telcos, mainly smaller resellers, are still not providing satisfactory protection to consumers,” said Ms Cameron.

“We welcome the Minister’s direction to lift these obligations into an enforceable industry standard that will apply to all providers. This work will be a priority for the ACMA.”

“In the interim, consumers should ask their provider what measures they have in place to protect their phone number and personal identity,” added Ms Cameron.

The ACMA is working actively with the industry to help curtail scams and will shortly release an action plan to limit telephone scams. The Scam Technology Project is due to hand down its findings to the Minister in late November.

If you think you have been a victim of phone number fraud, contact your mobile service provider and financial institution immediately.

MR 34/2019

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