The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is stepping up its fight against mobile number fraud with a new industry standard that requires telcos to add an additional identity verification when transferring customers’ phone numbers from one telco to another.
The new Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-porting Additional Identity Verification) Industry Standard 2020 requires mobile providers to implement stronger identity verification processes before a phone number can be transferred.
Mobile number fraud is a form of identity theft where scammers steal a person’s personal details to gain control of their mobile phone number.
ACMA Authority member Fiona Cameron said mobile number fraud is a serious issue that can cause significant harm to victims.
“The process will now require multifactor authentication, where a consumer must respond to the telco to confirm they have authorised the transfer,” Ms Cameron said.
“Mobile number fraud can be devastating. Victims in Australia lose on average more than ten thousand dollars.
“Mobile phones contain a lot of personal information so once a scammer has control of your number, they can hijack a lot of personal services, like online banking.
“This new standard is a strong step forward in the battle against criminals who scam mobile phone users and will significantly reduce the prevalence of mobile fraud.”
“The new rules commence on 30 April 2020 and the ACMA will be actively monitoring compliance so that consumers can continue to use their mobile phones with confidence,” Ms Cameron said.
An industry standard is an enforceable legislative instrument with enforcement options under the Telecommunications Act 1997 including remedial directions and civil penalties of up to $250,000.
The ACMA is working actively to combat scams over Australian telecommunications networks. In November it released the Combating Scams Action Plan which announced the commencement of trials for scam-reduction initiatives.
If you think you have been a victim of phone number fraud, contact your mobile service provider and financial institution immediately. For more about scams in Australia, or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.