Mobile News

SMS PhishGuard – Upping the ante in the fight against fraud

SMS PhishGuard is a new initiative from the UK’s four mobile network operators and Mobile UK, aiming to combat fraud by SMS. Launched at Messaging and SMS World 2018, for the first time, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have joined forces to combat SMS-based phishing attacks, with key objectives of raising awareness of phishing by SMS, reducing the number of attacks and helping consumers report it.

As part of the cross-network initiative, the four MNOs are partnering with the messaging industry via Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), as well as working with the banking sector via UK Finance as well as the UK Government.

For the past six months, the networks have aligned their approach to tackle this issue. Sharing best practice when phishing attacks do take place has to date resulted in faster response times, and operators are sending a consistent message to consumers on how to spot an attack, and crucially, how to report it using the 7726 shortcode.

Starting with the banking industry and UK Government agencies, a new SMS SenderID Protection Registry scheduled for early 2019 will be jointly established by MEF, a cross-network initiative, to allow participants to register and protect the message headers they use in SMS communications to consumers. This initiative will widen to all merchants and other public sector bodies that use named SMS messages.

This new Registry will also significantly reduce the ability for fraudsters to send messages impersonating a brand in the message header by checking whether the sender using that sender ID is the genuine registered party and block any messages that are fraudulent, ensuring SMS remains a trusted communication channel for brands and consumers alike.

The SMS PhishGuard teams are also supporting Take Five to Stop Fraud, the national awareness campaign led by UK Finance and backed by Her Majesty’s Government that offers advice to help people protect themselves from fraud. Take Five gives straight-forward information so customers can recognise scams, including phishing by SMS and encourages them to challenge with confidence any requests for their personal or financial details.

Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK said:

“Protecting customers is a top priority for mobile operators and SMS PhishGuard ups the ante in the fight against fraud. Through this new initiative the four MNOs, together with MEF and the banking sector, will have in place the tools to significantly reduce the ability for fraudsters to send messages impersonating a brand and block any messages that are fraudulent. This will ensure SMS remains a trusted communication channel for brands and consumers alike.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. Mobile UK is the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators -  EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
  2. Take Five is a national awareness campaign led by FFA UK (part of UK Finance), backed by Her Majesty’s Government and delivered with and through a range of partners in the UK payments industry, financial services firms, law enforcement agencies, telecommunication providers, commercial, and the public and third sector.

Media Contacts
Gareth Elliott
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076
Email: press@mobileuk.org

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