New Mobile Phone Scam Hits Pocket Hard

  • Steal your phone number and other personal details
  • Open new account with different provider using your number
  • Get your internet banking details

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman are continuing joint efforts to tackle scams relating to mobile phones, SMS and email.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has received complaints from consumers who had their mobile phone numbers transferred without their knowledge and then had large amounts of money transferred from their bank accounts.

"My investigating officers have recently received complaints where scammers have been able to transfer a consumer’s telephone services over to an alternate provider without the consumer’s knowledge. We are then being told by consumers that they are finding large sums of money being debited from their bank accounts without their knowledge,"

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Simon Cohen said, "Some consumers have reported up to $38,000 fraudulently transferred from their accounts.”

Some internet banking systems send authentication messages to their account holder’s mobile. These messages contain a special code that has to be entered into the online banking webpage before they are allowed to make a transaction to a new party.

The scam operates in this way:

  • the scammers obtain the victim’s mobile number, personal details, internet banking username and password
  • with those details, they transfer the victim’s mobile number to a different provider
  • after taking control of that number, they log on to the victim’s internet banking and make fraudulent transactions, generally, transfers of large sums of money
  • these transactions are authorised by the scammer using the special authentication code they received via SMS message on the mobile phone they transferred fraudulently from the victim.

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