Forbes lifts the veil on a company called Telesign that’s pervasive but flies mostly under the radar to the general public. If you’ve ever used two-factor authentication to set up an online account, you might be familiar with its milieu — companies send a specific code to a new user to verify they are who they say they are and allow them access to the account.
Telesign helps companies do that verification and sends those texts for about 300 clients, nine of which are in the top ten largest websites in the U.S., according to Teleisgn’s CEO Steve Jillings. Don’t ask what they are, but just believe him.
Anyway, the company says this helps prevent fake accounts wherever a mobile number is required to have that account, and it’s going to lead to a new service: the PhoneID score, which is a reputation-based score for any number in the world. Not unlike a credit score, Telesign uses these ratings to sort the burner phones from your precious new iPhone.
As Forbes’ Kashmir Hill puts it: “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.”
“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.”
The phone numbers are rated from 0 to 1000 with 0 being the phone number you’ve had forever and used to sign up for lots of credible accounts and 1000 being the Hello Kitty burner phone you toss in the hole with the body/drugs. The score also includes details like who owns the number, what kind of phone it is, how long you’ve had it, which service you use and what companies and apps are attached to it. That all figures into your score.
Much like a credit score, if you’ve never had a phone number before you’ll have a not as good score — a higher one instead of a low credit rating in this case — and Telesign will recommend companies either treat you like a golden child who gets anything you ask for (anything under 200) or the black sheep who can’t be trusted to not set up a fraudulent account (anything over 600). If you land in between it indicates you need to be reviewed more fully.
“A lot of the data comes from Telesign’s proprietary network data,” says Jillings. “We see very interesting traffic patterns in our closed network of clients.”
He adds that the company isn’t directly using client data but instead, accesses the metadata around the numbers. And if he has anything to do with it, in the future any account you sign up for will require a mobile phone number connected to it, which is where Telesign comes in.
Your Phone Number Is Going To Get A Reputation Score [Forbes.com]