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Published Tuesday 1 Mar 2022


Number porting fraud is a relatively new and uncommon occurrence in New Zealand, and the telco sector wants to keep it that way.

 

A new two-factor authentication process has been introduced by the telecommunications industry in order to confirm that requests to change mobile phone providers are legitimate.

 

Number porting allows consumers to retain their existing phone number when changing mobile providers. Unfortunately, fraudsters have been taking advantage of this process in order to gain access to a person’s phone number, and then their personal accounts, such as bank account and credit cards.

 

A change in process means that customers whose provider has had a porting request will receive an SMS text message about the port and will need to reply with a “YES” to confirm the port. This opt-in system will ensure that numbers can’t be ported without the owner’s express permission, says TCF CEO, Paul Brislen.


“Number porting has made it easier for customers to switch providers and get better deals while still retaining their mobile phone number. The new process will keep consumers safe by staying ahead of fraudsters, who are becoming ever more devious.”


Customers must reply with a YES to the text message within two hours, otherwise the request won’t proceed.


“Please be mindful of when you request the number to be ported - do so at a time when you have your mobile phone close to you and can respond promptly.”


How number porting fraud works

Many people have turned on two-factor authentication for large banking transactions. This helps ensure that only legitimate requests to transfer funds proceed. Fraudsters have worked out that if they port the victim’s number to a new device they can interrupt that bank process and authorise fraudulent transfers of money.

 

By introducing a new step in the number porting process, the TCF hopes to help customers avoid having this happen to them.

 

Example of text message sent to confirm port

Customers who request to move their mobile number to a new provider will receive an SMS text message and will need to reply to the SMS with a “YES” in order to process the port.


The text message sent will be as follows:

“ACTION REQUIRED: We have received a request to move your mobile [Numberxxx] to another provider. To proceed reply YES to this message within 2 hours. If you didn't request the move then reply NO, or ignore this message and it will be cancelled. From NZ Telecommunications Forum (TCF)”

 

It is free for the customer to reply to the SMS to confirm the port.

Click here to find out more about porting your mobile phone number.