News and Press

How phone porting is costing UK businesses millions

Phone porting is a service offered by mobile phone providers enabling customers to switch service provider but keep the same phone number. For many it is a benefit that means they can take advantage of more cost effective price plans without the hassle of changing numbers. For fraudsters, however, it is proving to be even more beneficial!

Porting fraud happens when a fraudster impersonates a customer and has the account transferred to another account that they have created.

The scam begins with the fraudster gathering personal information about the victim which can be achieved through phishing campaigns, buying information through the dark web or stealing a victim’s mail.

Once enough personal data has been collected the fraudster can have the original account swapped to the new account and can access all the services that the customer used on their phone such as email, internet banking, mobile wallet, social media etc.

The first thing the victim knows about the fraud is their account being terminated for apparently no reason.

If this happens experts advise victims to change all their passwords immediately to thwart further exploitation. The problem, however, is that fraudsters work quickly and tend to use the window between the victim realising that their account has been terminated to plunder their accounts and order products using their details. It is also proving to be an issue for bereaved families who are increasingly keeping phone numbers live of their deceased relatives in memorandum to stop other people from being assigned their phone numbers. This means that fraudsters can use their personal details to commit deceased identity fraud which is now one of the fastest growing forms of fraud.

The industry is taking steps to modify their systems to add new levels of verification to the number porting system. However, a statement from one carrier said: "We do not publicise these measures, as doing so might give criminals information they can use to try to circumvent them." It seems that porting fraud is not going to be stopped anytime soon. As a result, certainly as a measure to protect against deceased fraud organisations should screen orders against products such as Halo which will identify whether the orders are being made by people that are known to have passed away.

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