26 September 2023

ACMA moves to shut SIM-swap scams

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New industry rules for telcos, introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), have been adopted to help protect consumers from the devastating impact of scams that target customers.

Chair of ACMA’s Scam Taskforce, Fiona Cameron said the new rules are to come into force on 30 June this year requiring stronger customer identity checks when telcos undertake high-risk transactions such as SIM-swap requests, changes to accounts or disclosure of personal information.

Ms Cameron said a SIM-swap scam involved a scammer taking control of a consumer’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,” Ms Cameron said.

“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,” she said.

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

Ms Cameron said that under the new rules, ACMA would have a range of enforcement actions available for telcos found to have breached the rules, including the commencement of court proceedings.

She said that in early 2020 ACMA introduced rules to clamp down on mobile porting fraud to ensure greater consumer confidence when transferring phone numbers between telco providers.

She said ACMA data indicated that this had been very effective in addressing porting fraud.

“Scammers are forever finding new ways to steal personal details and rip people off,” she said.

“SIM-swap fraud is particularly egregious as it leads to identity theft and significant financial losses.”

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