Telecommunications companies will be required to identify, trace and block SMS scams as part of new rules designed to protect customers

A new code registered by the communications watchdog has been set up in response to the growing number of SMS scams.

Under the new rules developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), telcos must also publish information to help their customers manage and report scams.

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Companies will be required to share information about scams with their competitors and report identified scams to authorities.

The new rules were developed alongside industry peak body Communications Alliance.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the new rules would make it more difficult for people to fall victim to the scams.

“SMS scams can be highly sophisticated and have devastating financial and emotional impacts for victims,” 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.”

So far this year, more than $6.5 million has been lost to SMS scams, up 188 per cent compared to the same period the year before.

The SMS scams have made up about one-third of all reported scams in 2022.

“We shouldn’t have to screen messages and adopt workaround behaviours to be able to feel safe and stay connected,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“There is no silver bullet to stop scams but we know enforceable laws can have a significant impact and every blocked scam is a win for consumers.”

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government welcomed the new rules.

“Most Australians have either received a scam text message or know someone who has, and know how easy it can be to fall into the trap,” she said.

“These new rules aim to disrupt scammers’ business models, which will help to protect vulnerable Australians against scammers accessing their bank account, social media and online businesses.”

Under the new code, telcos found to have breached the directions will be fined up to $250,000.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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