Australian Communications and Media Authority

Australian regulator checks up on fraud compliance

08 July 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is actively checking on mobile providers to ensure they comply with new rules to protect customers from porting fraud and ID theft.

The warning came from Australia’s Federal Government in early July and followed a new industry standard – the Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-porting Additional Identity Verification) Industry Standard 2020 – announced by ACMA in February.

It stated that telcos would be required to conduct additional identity verification when transferring customers’ phone numbers from one telco to another. Further, the new standard made stronger identity checking mandatory, including multifactor authentication – to safeguard against mobile numbers being fraudulently ported or transferred.

The ACMA can issue formal warnings or civil penalties of up to AUD$250,000 to non-compliant mobile providers.

On 3 July, Paul Fletcher – the minister for communications, cyber safety and the arts who directed the new rules – said the enhanced obligations “will protect Australians from significant financial losses”.

He said: “The standard makes it mandatory for stronger identity checking, including multifactor authentication – to safeguard against mobile numbers being fraudulently ported or transferred.”

“The Morrison Government is working to protect Australians from scammers and we take our response to combatting scams extremely seriously. This new regulation is a strong step forward in preventing mobile porting fraud,” Fletcher added.

The standard is part of the Government’s Combating Scams Action Plan. In May 2020, the Government announced the success of the Australian Taxation Office number spoofing trial undertaken as part of the Government’s Combating Scams Action Plan and accompanies an industry code to reduce scams, which is being developed by the country’s Communications Alliance.

The ACMA also recently tested how well telcos have adopted the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, designed to protect customers from financially over committing to mobile and data contracts.

The code stated telcos must assess a new customer’s ability to pay but concluded that telcos were not conducting thorough credit checks on new customers. ACMA said it would work with the industry on compliance before taking action next year.