Cybersecurity Data Protection Fraud

FCC: New Rules Shield Consumers from SIM Swapping

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has implemented robust rules on November 15, 2023, to safeguard consumers against scams targeting their cell phone accounts. The rules specifically combat SIM swapping and port-out fraud, shielding users from scammers attempting to manipulate their personal information and data.

Scammers often use SIM swapping to fraudulently transfer a victim’s wireless service to a device under the scammer’s control, while port-out fraud involves opening an account with a carrier different from the victim’s and transferring the phone number to the scammer’s account.

The FCC’s Report and Order revises Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) and Local Number Portability rules. It mandates wireless providers to employ secure authentication methods before redirecting a customer’s number to a new device or carrier. Wireless providers are now required to promptly notify customers of any SIM change or port-out request made on their accounts, providing an additional layer of security against fraud.

The rules establish baseline requirements across the mobile wireless industry while granting providers the flexibility to implement advanced fraud protection measures tailored to their services. The FCC has also initiated a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to seek input on harmonizing these rules with existing CPNI regulations and exploring additional measures to coordinate government efforts against SIM swap and port-out fraud.

The FCC emphasizes its commitment to protecting consumer data through the Privacy and Data Protection Task Force, which coordinates agency-wide efforts on rulemaking, enforcement, and public awareness related to privacy and data protection. Recognizing the seriousness of SIM swapping scams and port-out fraud, the FCC underscores the importance of consumer awareness and provides resources to educate the public about these threats.

The rules were adopted by Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Commissioners Carr, Starks, Simington, and Gomez, with separate statements issued by Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Starks, and Gomez. The FCC’s proactive stance aims to curb the rising threats to consumer privacy and data protection in the realm of cell phone accounts.