New regulations to fight mobile phone scams a positive step for consumers
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman welcomes yesterday’s announcement by Minister Fletcher about new telco regulations which mandate stronger industry-wide identity verification measures before mobile numbers can be transferred from one provider to another.
Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about mobile number theft included consumers having their bank accounts drained by fraudsters and their email inboxes accessed.
In 2018, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Systemic Investigations Team noticed a trend of complaints about mobile service providers who had a low bar for consumer identity verification. The results of the investigation were highlighted in a report, “Reducing fraudsters’ theft of mobile numbers”.
Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “Yesterday’s announcement by Minister Fletcher is a positive step in the 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 consumers should do if their 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. We suggest 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 at www.idcare.org or via phone on 1300 432 273.
- If fraud or theft has occurred, contact the police.
For unresolved complaints about financial institutions, contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority at www.afca.org.au or via phone 1800 931 678.
If you have an unresolved complaint about how your mobile service provider dealt with mobile number theft, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman at www.tio.com.au or via phone on 1800 062 058.
How consumers can protect against the theft of their mobile numbers
The more publicly available your personal information is, the more susceptible you are to mobile number theft. To protect yourself, we suggest you:
- Don’t respond to emails asking for your bank account details, phone number and personal details.
- Don’t respond to any caller who asks for access to your computer. Don’t give them any passwords or other information. Hang up.
- Don’t click on links in emails or text messages saying you have won a prize or have a message, particularly if you don’t know the sender.
- Reduce disclosure of personal details such as full name, mobile number and full date of birth online on social media, online dating websites or blogs. If you must enter these details, ensure they are hidden from public view.
- Lock your letterbox. Fraudsters can gain personal information about you by physically stealing your mail.
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About the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman provides a free and independent dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service. Consumers and small businesses should contact www.tio.com.au or 1800 062 058.
The Telecommunications Industry Sector
The Telecommunications industry regulators are the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) http://www.acma.gov.au Media enquiries to 02 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) https://www.accc.gov.au Media enquiries to 1300 138 917, email@example.com
Government and the regulators set policy and regulations for the telecommunications sector.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is Australia’s peak communications consumer organisation representing individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit groups as consumers of communications products and services. http://accan.org.au/index.php Media enquiries to 0409 966 931 or 02 9288 4000.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from all nations of this land.