New telco industry code targets scam SMSs


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 13 July, 2022

New telco industry code targets scam SMSs

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has registered the new ‘Reducing Scam Calls and Scam Short Messages’ industry code to tackle the growing threat of SMS scams.

The new code has been developed in collaboration with telecommunications industry body Communications Alliance in response to evidence that SMS scams are increasing in both prevalence and impact.

Under the new rules, telcos must publish information aimed at allowing customers to proactively manage and report SMS scams; share information about scam messages with other providers; and report identified scams to authorities.

Telcos face penalties of up to $250,000 for breaching ACMA directions to comply with the new code.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said SMS scams are evolving to be highly sophisticated and can have devastating financial and emotional impacts for victims.

“In some circumstances, scammers can take a person’s life savings and cause profound ongoing distress,” she said.

“These scam messages are deeply frustrating to Australians because they are received on devices that are an essential part of our social and economic lives. Almost every Australian adult and business is affected. We shouldn’t have to screen messages and adopt workaround behaviours to be able to feel safe and stay connected.”

O’Loughlin said the action to target SMS scams has been modelled on the ‘Reducing Scam Calls’ code, introduced in 2020.

“In the first 16 months after the ‘Reducing Scam Calls’ code was put in place, telcos reported blocking over 549 million scam calls to Australian phone numbers, and we have seen a dramatic drop in scam call complaints,” she said.

“We expect to see SMS scams reduce as industry step up to do more to protect their customers.”

ACMA has also recently introduced new rules that require telcos to use multi-factor ID checks for customer transactions that are commonly targeted by scammers, including SIM swap requests and account changes.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/pathdoc

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