The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering new rules restricting SIM swapping and port-out fraud. Scammers use these methods to illegally access phone numbers and even identities in some cases.
Incidents of SIM swapping have been increasing in frequency over the past few years. This is particularly the case today since most social media accounts are tied to a personal phone number for authentication purposes.
The FCC cited numerous complaints that it received from cellular users in the U.S. The agency claimed that users “have suffered significant distress, inconvenience and financial harm” due to the aforementioned methods of obtaining personal information.
The agency is reportedly considering changes to the existing CPNI and LNP rules
For those unaware, SIM swapping occurs when a scammer successfully transfers a victim’s phone service to another phone. Meanwhile, port-out fraud occurs when the culprit transfers the victim’s number and service to a different carrier.
The FCC’s remedy (via) to this issue is to make changes to the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) and the Local Number Portability or LNP rules. The agency wants to mandate carriers to implement more robust security standards while authenticating a person who wants to switch to a new phone or change carriers.
The FCC wants carriers to notify subscribers when a user requests a port-out or SIM switch on their account. The agency is now allowing public comments on these two proposals. The public will have another chance to make their opinions known before the FCC considers the amendments.
Multiple carriers have faced SIM swapping complaints in the last few years. A T-Mobile customer in Miami, FL, was the most recent victim of this menace. The user, Richard Harris, said that the crime took place at a T-Mobile store. He further alleged that the crime was at the very least “effectuated and facilitated by T-Mobile and its employees.”
The complainant reportedly lost close to $55,000 worth of Bitcoin from his Coinbase account. This wasn’t T-Mobile’s first complaint of SIM swapping. Notably, other carriers haven’t been exempt from this either.
Back in 2018, a similar incident came to light, compromising a T-Mobile user’s Instagram and Snapchat credentials. T-Mobile then had to ask its customers to set up a SIM lock for their accounts.