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Australia cracks down on mobile phone porting scams

Mobile phone porting has emerged as a major fraud tactic and now Australian telcos face $250,000 fines for letting it happen under tough new standards.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has introduced the Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-porting Additional Identify Verification) Industry Standard 2020 which will take effect from April 30.

Under this new standard, mobile phone carriers must introduce additional multi-factor ID requirements in a bid to combat mobile phone porting.

If carriers fail to comply, they face fines of up to $250,000

Authorised porting is when a customer moves their services to a different carrier.

But scammers have been using this practice as a way to commit fraud, taking ownership of mobile phone numbers without the customer’s authorisation.

This gives them complete access to the customer’s phone and can lead to identity theft and access to mobile apps including banking, superannuation and government portals.

Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber support service IDCARE received 2000 reports of mobile-phone-porting fraud in a 12 month period from 2018-19 alone.

And IDCARE founder Professor David Lacey warned that this form of fraud was growing at a rate of 50 per cent each year.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones said a Systemic Spotlight had been run to explore the issue of mobile phone porting and determine methods to combat it.

“We are pleased to see our systemic investigation work informing this regulatory action,” she said.

“The telecommunications industry has worked hard over the last year to address the security risks associated with mobile number theft.”

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