Scam calls are the worst. At best they interrupt you and at worst they can trick people into giving away their information or money.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has registered new rules that require telcos to detect, trace and block scam calls. The Reducing Scam Calls Code, developed by the telco industry, was a direct recommendation of the ACMA’s Combating Scams Action Plan.

The ACMA has worked closely with telcos and peak body Communications Alliance to develop the new rules and successfully pilot initiatives to reduce the scale and impact on Australians of scam calls. Major telcos report blocking over 30 million scam calls across the last 12 months as they undertook work to trial the identification and reduction of scam calls.

Chair of the ACMA’s Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce Fiona Cameron said the code is a significant step toward providing better protections for consumers and making Australia a ‘hard target’ for scammers. Ms Cameron said further:

“The code is a unique and ground-breaking contribution to global regulatory efforts to prevent the harms caused by scammers. It is a holistic, end-to-end framework for effective scam reduction activity”

“There is no silver bullet to reduce scams, but these new rules place clear obligations on industry to do more to protect their customers and build confidence that it’s safe to answer a ringing phone.”

“Industry’s initial efforts to block scams are an encouraging step towards the substantial and sustained work required before consumers will see a real reduction in scam calls.

“The end game is to stop scammers in their tracks wherever possible and the ACMA will enforce this code to make sure telcos are meeting their obligations to their customers”.

“Reports of mobile porting fraud have markedly decreased since new rules were introduced in April this year, however we are still closely monitoring industry compliance with the new obligations,”

According to ACCC Scamwatch data, Australians have lost $35.6 million to scam calls in 2020 so far. Scam calls accounted for 46 per cent of all scams reported.

Scams have a devastating impact on their victims and scammers are unscrupulous in taking advantage of people. They quickly adapt to changing circumstances, as we have seen, for example, in scam activity targeting Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new rules, telcos must also publish information to assist their customers to proactively manage and report scam calls, share information about scam calls with other telcos, and report identified scam calls to authorities.

The new rules build on recent scam reduction and awareness-raising activities by the ACMA, including the introduction of new measures to fight mobile number fraud earlier this year and the recent release of comprehensive consumer awareness resources.

Phone scams are a current ACMA compliance priority, and telcos will face penalties of up to $250,000 for breaching ACMA directions to comply with the code.

If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your bank and phone company immediately and report it to the government’s Scamwatch site.

For information on how to spot – and stop – phone scams, visit the ACMA website

3 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
sujayv_au
sujayv_au
1 month ago

Not too sure how this will work. Just received a Microsoft Support phone call on my mobile. The calling number looked like a genuine Australian mobile number. When I told the caller I use Linux, he got really abusive and called me all the names under the sun before I hung up on him. I work in IT so it is okay for me to receive these calls. Imagine if it was my 80yo mother getting it and someone who doesn’t even own a computer. She would have had to listen to this guys abuse. So code is needed but… Read more »

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  sujayv_au
1 month ago

The whole problem is cause by countries, or businesses in countries, being allowed to get away with thumbing their nose at the entire concept of international law. Right now, there’s no way to bring these criminal call centres to book, because as far as the countries where those call centres are based are concerned, those call centres have not broken local law. And when you’re dealing with countries who are already in trade dispute, can you imagine bringing in international enforcement against phone criminals, into such a mix? What the ACMA is saying is a nice dream. The reality for… Read more »

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
1 month ago

Serious question: How the heck CAN the ACMA block scammers, when the scammers routinely either, spoof their number so it looks like an Australian one, or just display a usually fake ‘brand name’ instead of a phone number.