Victims are reporting having their bank accounts drained by fraudsters and their email inboxes accessed in the latest scam involving theft of mobile numbers.
These issues are highlighted in the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Systemic Spotlight, Reducing fraudsters theft of mobile numbers, published on Wednesday.
The report reveals how fraudsters steal a consumer’s mobile number by convincing the mobile service provider to switch the number to a new SIM card in the fraudster’s possession, known as SIM swaps.
Once a fraudster has access to a consumer’s mobile number they can use it to access the consumer’s bank account, emails, and other online accounts.
Ombudsman Judi Jones said fraudsters were developing new ways to collect personal information about a consumer – accessing social media profiles, posing as telemarketers, or sending deceptive emails.
"They use this information to impersonate consumers, deceive mobile service providers, and steal consumer’s mobile numbers," she said.
“The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Systemic Investigation team noticed a trend of complaints in 2018 about mobile service providers who had a low bar for consumer identity verification.
"We have been working with these providers to address these problems and help prevent future complaints.”
Since the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman started to work with the providers on this issue, they have introduced new security procedures including two-factor authentication.
"We welcome the industry’s continued work towards consistently robust identity verification procedures," Ms Jones said.
" It is important to ensure these procedures keep up with evolving technological risks."
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has also published a guidance note about how her office handles complaints about unauthorised SIM swaps.
That includes advice are what should consumers should do if their mobile number was stolen?
Ms Jones said if anyone found their service was suddenly disconnected or receive notification about a SIM swap they didn’t authorise, they 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.orgor via phone on 1300 432 273,” she said.
Ms Jones said if fraud or theft had occurred, victims should contact the police.