By the time you get a text message saying your mobile number is being ported to a different carrier, it's already too late.
Combined with other personal information obtained on social media, access to your phone number can open the door to your banking.
Thousands of Australians lose money this way every year and, on average, each of them are defrauded of more than $10,000.
Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone already use strong pre-port verification measures to make sure the person porting a phone number actually owns that number.
But a small number of Australian mobile carriers don't – and that's all it takes for fraudsters to take advantage.
On Wednesday, Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to develop a standard requiring identity verification for mobile phone porting.
Fletcher said the government expects all telcos to be working on ensuring identity theft does not occur.
“I want Australians to be confident that every telco has put in place strong verification processes to stop fraudulent mobile number porting and the devastating consequences it can have for victims,” he said.
“The entire industry needs to put in place a solution otherwise those telcos without safeguards in place will be a magnet for fraudsters.
Fletcher said the direction to ACMA is the beginning of government measures to tackle phone scams.
“I expect there will be more [measures] in coming months,” he said.
“If criminals are using technology to scam Australians, we need to make sure we are using technology to fight back.”
Earlier this year, ACMA released a discussion paper on how to combat scams using telecommunications.
ACMA expects the amount of money lost to scams will reach $532 million this year.
Managing director of US speech recognition technology company Nuance Communications, Robert Schwarz, welcomes the government’s direction to ACMA but said Australia can still do more to improve identity services.
“Multi-factor authentications are only going to be viable for a limited amount of time,” Schwarz said.
“Hackers are learning fast and already discovering ways to bypass them.
“Just a few weeks ago, the FBI released a notification stressing the insecurities of multi-factor authentication, and urging organisations to start using biometrics security.
“Voice authentication, for example, uses an individual's voiceprint to verify their identity, which includes more than 1000 unique physical and behavioural characteristics of a person. This makes it extremely secure when stored and encrypted correctly and can prevent impersonators, synthetic voices or deepfakes from ‘tricking’ the system.”