The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the federal government about new telco regulations that mandate stronger industry-wide identity verification measures before mobile numbers can be ported from one provider to another.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, announced new telco regulations, intended to protect Australians from the devastating consequences of number porting theft.
In making the announcement Minister Fletcher said:
“I have issued a formal direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority 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.”
Second‑factor authentication – such as entering a code on a website, or responding to a text message – will be required before a number can be ported.
Major Australian telcos, including Telstra Optus and Vodafone, have already introduced stronger pre‑port verification measures. However, many smaller companies – collectively representing more than one million mobile services – are yet to implement stronger consumer safeguards. This puts all Australian mobile users at risk of fraudulent number porting.
It’s an especially important concern when so many of us use SMS as a second-factor authentication for our accounts, including Google, Facebook and bank. If a bad actor is able to read an SMS intended to verify your identity, the havoc they can wreak can be devastating.
TIO Ombudsman Judi Jones said the announcement by Minister Fletcher:
“Is a positive step toward safeguarding mobile consumers from fraudsters. A lot of work has been done over the past year by the telco industry to address the security risks associated with mobile phone number theft, and I welcome the industry’s continued work towards consistently robust identity verification procedures. It is important to ensure these procedures keep up with evolving technological risks.”
What Should You Do If Your Mobile Number is Stolen?
If you find your service is suddenly disconnected or receive notification about a SIM swap you didn’t authorise, you may be a victim of mobile number theft.
The TIO suggests you:
- Contact your bank or financial services provider immediately and explain that your mobile number has been taken. Ask them to check for any withdrawals or unusual transactions on your account.
- Contact your mobile service provider and ask them to get your number back.
- Contact IDCARE Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber support service or via phone on 1300 432 273.
- If fraud or theft has occurred, contact the police.
If you have an unresolved complaint about how your mobile service provider dealt with mobile number theft, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman or via phone on 1800 062 058