Australian telcos take on mobile number, identity fraud

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has hailed newly implemented measures to deal with mobile number fraud.

Flagging mobile number fraud as the gateway to identity theft the authority said the issue 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. It said the first outcome of this work was 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 ACMA said, adding that the largest telco providers and most major resellers had voluntarily implemented the measures.

While Cameron hailed the development of the stricter security measures,she warned more was required. “We know that some telcos, mainly smaller resellers, are still not providing satisfactory protection to consumers,” she said. “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 Cameron.

The ACMA will shortly release an action plan to limit telephone scams, with the Scam Technology Project due to hand down its findings to the Minister in late November.

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