New Telco Industry Code Fights Customer Transaction Fraud

Australia’s telecommunications sector has published a strengthened Industry Code to better protect customers from attempted fraudulent transactions.

This is a media release from Communications Alliance. It was originally published on 13th October, 2021.

The Communications Alliance code – C666:2021 Existing Customer Authentication – provides an improved framework to authenticate the identity of customers making transactions involving their telecommunications service.

The new Code will work in concert with other industry-initiated regulatory safeguards, including the Pre-Port Verification Standard and the Reducing Scam Calls Industry Code, to seek to minimise scamming and fraud for all Australian telecommunications users.

Publication of the new Code has been approved by the Board of Communications Alliance. It will now be submitted to the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for consideration for registration, making it enforceable for all Australian carriage service providers (CSPs).

The new Code is accompanied by an industry Guideline on anti-fraud measures that is intentionally non-public, to avoid alerting those that seek to commit fraud of the detailed actions being taken to safeguard against them.

The stronger protection measures are also designed to ensure that genuine customers – particularly those who are vulnerable, disadvantaged or in an emergency situation – can still undertake transactions with their service provider.

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said the new Code – scheduled to take effect in April 2022, following registration – had benefited from proposals received from key stakeholders, including the industry Ombudsman and consumer groups, during its public comment period, and more recently from suggestions received directly from the ACMA.

“This is the latest in a series of anti-fraud initiatives from industry over the past 12 years, and an important part of the overall framework to protect customers from the rising scourge of attempted scams and fraud by criminals overseas and locally,” Mr Stanton said.

“The Code and Guideline provide a common set of principles for CSPs to use, to put strong authentication procedures in place, consistent with the level of risk of harm, while also enabling some operational flexibility.”

“The measures have a particular focus on preventing high-risk transactions from actions that could result in a customer losing access to their telecommunications service.”

Mr Stanton praised the efforts of the members of the Comms Alliance Operations Reference Panel, chaired by Alexander Osborne of TPG Telecom, which undertook the code work.

The Code also requires CSPs to publish information on their websites, advising customers how to protect themselves from unauthorised transactions, and to ensure that relevant customer-facing staff are trained in customer authentication measures and security practices.

About Communications Alliance

Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance.

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