A new industry standard set to kick off on 30 April will see Australian telcos required to undertake additional identification checks when transferring mobile phone numbers across from one telco to another or face fines of up to $250,000.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) introduced the new standard as part of its efforts to step up its fight against mobile number fraud.
The new Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-porting Additional Identify Verification) Industry Standard 2020 compels mobile providers to implement stronger identity verification processes before a phone number can be transferred.
“The process will now require multi-factor authentication, where a consumer must respond to the telco to confirm they have authorised the transfer,” said ACMA Authority member Fiona Cameron, adding that mobile number fraud is a serious issue that can cause significant harm to victims.
“Mobile number fraud can be devastating. Victims in Australia lose on average more than ten thousand dollars,” she said. “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,” she added.
Introduction of the new rules come after a period of industry consultation, with ACMA in December issuing a request for feedback on a draft of the standard.
Specifically, ACMA was looking for feedback on a new verification process, application to customer types, effectiveness, feasibility and cost, costs to customers, customer information and advice.
Now with the new rules set to commence on 30 April, ACMA has said it will be actively monitoring compliance so that consumers can “continue to use their mobile phones with confidence”.
It should be noted that 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.