While it hasn’t had a lot of attention, there’s a scam going around that can really upset the apple cart when it comes to the complexity of resolution for those who are scammed.

It’s called Mobile Number Fraud, and it basically involves a scammer stealing your mobile phone number.

They’re not hacking your account to get free calls, they’re just stealing your mobile number. Strange? Powerful! Because if a scammer can receive calls as you, make calls as you, and send and receive text messages as you – they’ve suddenly got a heck of a lot of power.

Think about all those services that send you a text to verify a login. You try to access your bank, or transfer money – you get a text saying “if this is you, here’s the code” or “reply 1 if this was you”.

Now imagine a scammer has stolen your number, and want to hack into your social media or email. If they have your password through other means, they’ve also now got your mobile number and that’s often your second form of identity validation.

Late last year the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher issued a direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to make new rules which mandate a stronger verification process before mobile numbers can be ported.

Turns out, on average, victims of this fraud lose more than $10,000 a pop!

ACMA’s new industry standard requires telcos to improve their verification, something that used to simply require a date of birth and the account number of the existing mobile account. Both easily obtained through mail intercepts and other techniques.

From now, a multi-factor authentication will be required, which could also involve a phone call or text message on the existing device among other measures.

Minister Fletcher said the new rules must be implemented by our telcos “Mobile providers will have until 30 April 2020 to comply with the ACMA’s new standard designed to protect Australians from fraud and identity theft,”

“The ACMA will actively monitor compliance with the industry standard and has enforcement powers to issue formal warnings or civil penalties of up to $250,000 to non-compliant mobile providers. The ACMA will have my full support in pursuing non-compliant mobile providers to ensure Australians are kept safe from scammers.

“I thank the mobile providers that have already put these measures in place and I make it very clear that I expect the others to comply with the standard by the end of April.

There’s a likelihood this will every so slightly increase the time it takes to port your number, but in the bigger scheme of things, that’s a bloody good thing.