26 September 2023

Scammers in retreat as telcos step up

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has declared that the fight against scammers is showing results.

The claim follows the release of figures that show telcos have blocked more than 549 million scam calls under rules introduced in late 2020.

Chair of ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin said every scam call that did not reach a consumer was a good outcome, and every initiative that helped disrupt scammers made Australia a harder target and increased confidence in services.

She said ACMA’s Combating Scams Action Plan, launched in late 2019, had seen the Agency and the telecommunications industry develop a number of initiatives aimed at reducing phone scams, including new rules requiring telcos to detect and block scam calls.

“There has been a 95 per cent decrease in reported mobile fraud since the new obligations commenced. Both the ACMA and Scamwatch have recently seen dramatic decreases in complaints about scam calls for the first quarter of this year,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“We anticipate SIM-swap scams to also reduce when new rules come into effect on 30 June.”

She said while the figures were promising and she was encouraged by the recent actions taken by telcos, there was still more to be done to prevent phone scams from reaching Australians.

“Mention ‘scams’ to anyone and the depth of frustration quickly becomes evident. Recent ACMA research found most people are annoyed by scam calls, and 33 per cent feel anxious, distressed or vulnerable,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

She called for industry to prioritise the development of new rules to block SMS scams, saying that providers needed to continue to build their capability to identify and block scams, and that the telco industry and the financial sector needed to work together to share data.

Telcos also needed to provide more information to their customers about how to identify and stop scam calls.

“Combating scams is a seriously challenging business, and while we are having some wins, set-and-forget industry efforts and regulatory obligations are not going to effectively address the problem,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

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