FCC proposes new rules to combat SIM swapping scams

SIM swapping scams have been on the rise these past couple of years, and since most online services these days are tied to people’s phone numbers, the technique has the potential to ruin victims’ lives. Now, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to create new rules that would help prevent SIM swapping scams and port-out fraud, both of which are techniques designed to hijack people’s phone numbers and identities. 

The commission said it has received numerous complaints from consumers “who have suffered significant distress, inconvenience and financial harm” as a result of both hijacking methods. SIM swapping is a technique wherein a bad actor convinces a wireless carrier to transfer a victim’s service to a phone they control. When a bad actor successfully transfers the victim’s service and number to another carrier, that’s called port-out fraud.

To make it harder for scammers to gain control of potential victims’ phone numbers, the FCC wants to amend the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) and Local Number Portability rules. In particular, it wants to require providers to adopt more secure methods in authenticating a person’s identity before agreeing to transfer their service to a new phone or to another carrier. The commission also proposes a rule that would require providers to notify customers whenever a SIM switch or a port-out request is made on their accounts. 

As part of the FCC’s rulemaking process, the public can now comment on these proposals. The commission still has to read those proposals and offer the public another chance to make their voice heard before it can decide whether to amend the aforementioned rules. 

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