The Australian Communications and Media Authority will be implementing new security measures to port mobile numbers between carriers which has in the past been used in scams and cybercrimes.
The new Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-Porting Additional Identity Verification) Industry Standard 2020 will protect customers from potential fraud and identity theft.
In the past all someone needed to port a number was the phone number, an account number and a date of birth.
Criminals have been able port mobile numbers without the actual owner’s knowledge and then were able to approve bank transfers and access to other accounts even when a two-factor identifying code was sent to their now hijacked mobile number.
“The process will now require multifactor authentication, where a consumer must respond to the telco to confirm they have authorised the transfer,” says ACMA Authority member Fiona 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 Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman raised the potential dangers of the existing system in February 2019.
Now porting a number will come with a stronger identification process before a number can be transferred.
So in future if you are changing telcos, expect a call from the telco you’re leaving to confirm you actually intend to port your number.
“We are pleased to see our systemic investigation work informing this regulatory action,” says Ombudsman Judi Jones.
“The telecommunications industry has worked hard over the last year to address the security risks associated with mobile number theft.
“When fraud happens the impact on consumers is significant. It is important identity verification procedures keep up with evolving technological risks and strike the right balance between accessibility and security.
“The ACMA’s new Standard is a welcome layer of consumer protection to combat telco fraud.”
The new rules will come in to force on April 30.