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ACMA sets new rules for telcos to combat increasing number of scam texts

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The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) has put new rules in place for telcos to work together to protect Australians from scam text messages.

Now mobile providers will have to share information about scam messages with other telcos to make it easier to identify and block scam text messages.

And if telcos don’t comply with these new rules, they face penalties of up to $250,000.

Just last week Telstra announced that since it’s scam message filter which was put in place in April had blocked more than 185 million scam text messages which is the equivalent of 1500 scam texts per minute.

ACMA developed the Reducing Scam Calls and Scam Short Message Industry Code in partnership with industry peak body Communications Alliance as a response to the growing number of SMS scams Australian customers are receiving.

According to the ACCC, the amount of money lost to scam text messages in 2022 to date has increased by 188 per cent compared to the same time last year.

It’s gone from $2.3m in 2021 to more than $6.5m so far in 2022.

The problem has become so large that scam text messages now account for 32 per cent of all scams this year to date.

“SMS scams can be highly sophisticated and have devastating financial and emotional impacts for victims. In some circumstances, scammers can take a person’s life savings and cause profound ongoing distress,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin 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.”

ACMA says under the new rules telcos must publish information to help their customers manage and report SMS scams as well as sharing information and intelligence about scam texts with other telcos.