New industry rules for telcos will help protect consumers from the devastating impact of scams that target customer interactions with providers, which cost individual victims in Australia an average of around $28,000.
The new rules introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will require stronger customer identity checks when telcos undertake high-risk transactions such as SIM-swap requests, changes to accounts or disclosure of personal information.
A SIM-swap scam involves a scammer taking control of a consumer’s mobile number by using that individual’s personal details to request a new SIM.
Chair of the ACMA’s Scam Taskforce Fiona Cameron said the new Telecommunications Service Provider (Customer Identity Authentication) Determination 2022 would come into effect from 30 June 2022.
“SIM-swap scams can cause a lot of harm as scammers take control of your phone number and then use that to gain access to your online banking accounts,” Ms Cameron said.
“These new rules require multi-factor authentication of your identity such as confirming personal information and responding with a one-time code consistent with how other essential services like banking operate.
“We expect these rules will go a long way to stamping out unauthorised transactions like SIM-swap fraud and improve safeguards for telco customers.”
Under the new rules, the ACMA will have a range of enforcement actions available for telcos found to have breached the new rules, including commencing court proceedings.
In early 2020 the ACMA introduced rules to clamp down on mobile porting fraud to ensure greater consumer confidence when transferring phone numbers between telco providers. ACMA data indicates that this has been very effective in addressing porting fraud.
“Scammers are forever finding new ways to steal personal details and rip people off. SIM-swap fraud is particularly egregious as it leads to identity theft and significant financial losses,” Ms Cameron said.
If you think you have been a victim of phone number fraud, contact your telco and financial institution immediately. For more about scams in Australia or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.
For information on how to spot – and stop – phone scams, visit acma.gov.au/scams