Fraudulent Number Ports Are on the Rise

What used to be a rare occurrence has turned into a daily concern for carriers. Carriers are reporting that the levels of fraudulent telephone number ports reported by customers have skyrocketed. The industry defines a fraudulent port as one which occurred as the result of an intentional act of fraud, theft, and/or misrepresentation. Examples include the use of numbers for such acts as credit card or vanity number fraud.

Thanks to the limited detail required to port telephone numbers, it’s easy for bad actors to fraudulently port out numbers unbeknownst to the end user and the current service provider. Once the issue is reported, subscribers expect immediate return of their telephone numbers, but the process can be difficult and time consuming.

The Local Number Portability Administration Transition Oversight Working Group (LNPA-TOSC) is conducting informal meetings to brainstorm fraudulent port preventive measures. Although a port “double-check” process that would allow the original service provider to confirm with the customer before porting out the number seems like an obvious solution to the problem, this option won’t likely be resurrected. JSI is part of this industry group and we will notify clients of any new solutions to prevent fraudulent ports.

In the interim, the industry’s best practice approach remains in effect:

  1. Trouble Report: The end user reports the phone service issue to its original service provider.
  2. Internal Investigation: That service provider checks for the number in its billing system, its telephone number port-out list, on its port request and response forms, and in the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC). If no internal record of the port out exists, but the number was ported in the NPAC, the original service provider notifies the end user and the new provider of the identified problem.
  3. Notification: The preferred service provider notifies the end user of the internal investigation result – the number was ported without the end user’s knowledge – and the plan to regain the telephone number. The “new” provider of the telephone number is informed of the fraudulent port and is requested to work with the preferred carrier to return the number to the end user. NOTE: some carriers require a police report before investigating the claim of a fraudulent port.
  4. Resolution: The preferred carrier and the new service provider complete the port request and response process to port the telephone number back to the preferred service provider and the end user.

For now, JSI recommends clients do the following to alleviate cases of fraudulent ports:

  • Urge your customers to immediately report any suspicious activity associated with their telephone service/account to your company for investigation.
  • Educate your customers on the account protection options offered by your company (for example: requesting a local service provider freeze or adding a passcode/PIN to their account).
  • Educate your staff on how to investigate reported cases of fraudulent ports.
  • Update your Number Portability Procedures to include the process for carriers to report fraudulent ports to your company for investigation.
  • Provide a fraudulent port reporting contact (name, telephone number and email address) in your company’s number portability procedures document.

For more info on fraudulent ports or for assistance creating or updating your company’s number portability procedures, contact Bridget Alexander White in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590.