The ACMA Hopes to End SIM-Swap Scams With New Enforceable Telco Rules

The ACMA Hopes to End SIM-Swap Scams With New Enforceable Telco Rules
Image: Warner Bros.

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again. It’s surprisingly complicated to register a new mobile phone service in Australia, but sadly all too frighteningly easy to get one fraudulently ported away from its rightful owner. New rules being brought in by the ACMA aim to make that kind of criminal effort much harder.

Aussie telcos will be required to conduct stronger identity checks when customers request SIM-swaps, under new rules introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The new rules, known as the new Telecommunications Service Provider (Customer Identity Authentication) Determination 2022, will come into effect June 30. The rules, the ACMA says, will cover any ‘high-risk transactions’ such as SIM-swap requests, changes to accounts or disclosure of personal information.

In case you aren’t familiar, a SIM-swap scam involves a scammer taking control of someone else’s mobile number by using that individual’s personal details to request a new SIM. SIM-swap scams can cause a lot of harm as scammers take control of your phone number and then use that to gain access to your online banking accounts. Telstra has already kicked off work with Aussie banks to prevent SIM-swapping on its network.

“These new rules require multi-factor authentication of your identity such as confirming personal information and responding with a one-time code consistent with how other essential services like banking operate,” chair of the ACMA’s Scam Taskforce Fiona Cameron explains.

“We expect these rules will go a long way to stamping out unauthorised transactions like SIM-swap fraud and improve safeguards for telco customers.”

As part of these new industry rules, the ACMA will have a range of enforcement actions available for telcos found to have breached the new rules, including commencing court proceedings.

If you think you have been a victim of phone number fraud, contact your telco and financial institution immediately. For more about scams in Australia or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.