Australian Government Wants Telcos To Get Tougher On Phone Porting Scammers

australian phone porting scamsImage: Getty Images

The Morrison Government has announced it's planning to further regulate telco providers to make sure they're protecting their customers against porting scams.

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Paul Fletcher, the government's communications minister, said in a media release he had asked the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to tighten up the regulation in order to make ensure telcos require more stringent processes around the porting of mobile numbers.

"I have issued a formal direction to the [ACMA] to make new rules mandating stronger identity verification processes before mobile numbers can be transferred. The entire industry needs to put in place a solution otherwise those telcos, without safeguards in place, will be a magnet for fraudsters," the minister said in a media release.

"Criminals will continue to look for new ways to rip off Australians using the telephone system. That is why tackling telecommunications scams is a priority for the Morrison Government."

One way to do this was by using two-factor authentication to verify the user's identity when requests are made to port mobile numbers. The media release confirmed while major telcos such as Telstra, Optus and Vodafone had already enabled this method, other telcos representing more than one million mobile services around Australia had yet to implement the same.

Porting scams occur when a hacker manages to take control of a user's phone number without their authorisation. This means they can assume your identity.

ACCC's Scamwatch says if you notice your phone is showing 'SOS only' where the reception bars usually appear, that could be cause for porting concerns. It recommends choosing difficult passwords and PINs to guess and updating them regularly, deleting any suspicious text messages or emails, avoiding software that auto-completes online forms as well as using security software to conduct virus scans.

But if you think you've already been scammed, you can report it to Scamwatch.

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