Your cell phone number could be blocked if you receive a low ‘Phone-ID Score’

Your cell phone number could be blocked if you receive a low ‘Phone-ID Score’

Telesign is one of those companies that you’ve probably never heard of but that provides services you likely use on a regular basis, especially if you have two-factor authentication set up for any of your online accounts. Based out of L.A.’s “Silicon Beach,” Telesign helps companies verify that a mobile number belongs to a user (sending those oh-so-familiar “verify that you received this code” texts) and takes care of the mobile part of two-factor authenticating or password changes. Among their over 300 clients are nine of the ten largest websites in the U.S., says Telesign’s CEO Steve Jillings, though he’s shy about naming them (at least on the record). He says that fraudulent and fake accounts are greatly reduced for customers who require a mobile number be attached to an account.

The company has had massive growth over the last three years thanks to online security concerns and breaches. Communication companies such as Google , Facebook and Twitter have famously enabled two-factor authentication. “The tide turned when Google started offering two-factor in 2010. When free email providers started doing two-factor, a lot of people asked why their financial services weren’t doing the same thing,” says Jillings, a tall New Zealander whose accent has faded thanks to years spent in the U.S., including a stint heading an email security company that did spam detection that sold to Microsoft in 2005 for $200 million.

Now Telesign wants to leverage the data — and billions of phone numbers — it sees deals with daily to provide a new service: a PhoneID Score, a reputation-based score for every number in the world that looks at the metadata Telesign has on those numbers to weed out the burner phones from the high-quality ones. Yes, there’s yet another company out there with an inscrutable system making decisions about you that will effect the kinds of services you’re offered.

“Companies simply send a user’s phone number to TeleSign via its REST API to receive a real-time score, risk level and a recommendation,” says the company in a press release. “TeleSign’s clients use this predictive data to prevent scammers and fraudsters from abusing services such as creating fake accounts, and for approving online transactions with greater confidence.”

“We each have a unique mobile identity tied to our phone number that is linked to a wealth of information, from where we live to our online activities. This makes the phone number the most efficient and conclusive method to identify fraud online,” said Telesign’s CTO Charles McColgan in the release. “PhoneID Score introduces a new way for companies to quickly verify transactions, block fake accounts, and prevent eCommerce fraud, based simply on a phone number.”
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