Telstra are now blocking around 13 million suspected scam calls on average per month from reaching end customers, which is a two-fold increase on the 6.5 million suspected scams calls they were blocking just four months ago.

Over the past few months, Telstra hsa implemented a few new upgrades to their platform to catch even more suspicious calls, making their blocking strategy more aggressive with the ability to detect more types of scam calls than before.

Protecting customers from potential scams is a big deal – Scamwatch says that scam calls have cost Australians nearly $25 million already this year, on track to surpass last year’s $48.2 million that was lost to scam calls.

How Telstra is detecting more calls than ever

Telstra has made improvements to the way they block Wangiri scam calls. This is a type of call I think most of us might be familiar with – do you ever get a call from a random international number, it rings once and then stops?

This is a type of call that scammers use to try and get you to call them back, which if you do, is where the scam begins. The international number is typically an expensive premium number and the scammers try to keep you on the line for as long as possible to milk money out of you.

Telstra are also improving methods to detect and block scam calls with numbers that appear to be from a known source, but are not. This is called spoofing, and it’s when a scammer disguises the number they are calling from by changing the caller ID to look like a local number, which we all tend to trust more than international numbers, or a trusted brand name, like Telstra or the ATO (Australian Tax Office).

This is a popular technique, as scammers from overseas know that the appearance of a local or trusted number increases the chance someone will answer the call.

Telstra say they are very careful not to block legitimate calls that could prevent customers connecting. That, combined with the fact that scammers are always finding new tactics means that no technology platform will ever stop scam calls entirely.

The work Telstra is doing to target scam calls is part of  their Cleaner Pipes initiative, where they are working to reduce the harm of phishing, malware, ransomware and other scams across our networks both online and through voice and SMS.

They recently rolled out a new capability to make SMS safer too, with the first impact being to block illegitimate messages pretending to be from Services Australia from reaching Telstra customers’ phones.

Working together to stop scams

Cyber security is a team effort and relies on industry working together to keep Australians safe. Telstra is also working with other carriers and regulators to trace back the origin of scam calls, so that the industry can stop the people bringing these calls into Australia in the first place.

This team effort is another big reason Telstra has been able to block so many more scam attempts, with industry’s new Reducing Scam Calls Code coming into effect.

Telstra was a key contributor to the Code, which has given Aussie telcos the regulatory foundation to block numbers that are non-telco compliant. It also sets out the expectation for telcos to collaborate more to block illegitimate calls more aggressively and this is a big win for the industry and customers.

5 things to watch out for to protect yourself

1. Don’t be convinced just because it looks like an incoming call is from a legitimate business or government organisation.

2. Is the caller pressuring you and making it seem like the matter is urgent? Be very suspicious of calls of this nature. Hang up and search online for the official number of the organisation they are calling from and use that number to call back.

3. Take note of the time of day – is it a reasonable time for a trusted organisation to be calling you? Be suspicious of calls late at night or on weekends.

4. Is an unknown number or trusted brand trying to call you repeatedly? This is a hallmark of a scam call.

5. The golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is calling you about an opportunity or about winning a prize (especially one you don’t remember entering!), it’s probably a scam.

Remember, if you think you’re receiving a scam call, just hang up. If you’re not sure about whether you’re speaking to a real business or a scammer, take their details and say you’ll call them back.

Whatever you do, don’t provide personal information or bank account information to anyone who you weren’t expecting a call from or don’t know – regardless of who they say they are. A healthy dose of skepticism might just save you from a scam!

If you’re a Telstra customer who thinks they might have been scammed, contact Telstra especially if the scam involved impersonating Telstra and they can help secure your account.

For more tips and advice on how to spot a scam phone call, visit  the Telstra website.