ACMA releases new rules to detect, trace and block scam calls

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Those unwanted 7pm scam calls may soon become a thing of the past under the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) new rules requiring telcos to detect, trace and block scam calls.

As part of ACMA’s Combating Scams Action Plan, and working in conjunction with the Communications Alliance, the Reducing Scam Calls Code aims to reduce the scale and impact of scam calls on Australians.

During trials to identify and reduce the number of scam calls, telcos blocked more than 30 million scam calls in the past 12 months alone.

“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,” said ACMA’s Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce chair Fiona Cameron.

“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.”

Australians have already lost $35.6 million to scam calls in 2020.

“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,” said Ms Cameron.

“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.”

And while telcos will do their bit to block scam calls coming your way, they’re also being tasked to publish information and assistance to help you become more proactive in identifying and blocking calls yourself.

Telcos are also being asked to share information on scam calls with each other, as well as improve and consumer awareness resources, so telcos and call recipients can identify and report more scam calls to authorities.

“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,” said Ms Cameron.

ACMA is focusing primarily on phone scam calls, as they comprise 46 per cent of all reported scams.

Telcos will face penalties of up to $250,000 for failing to comply with the code.

To learn more about on how to spot – and stop – phone scams, visit www.acma.gov.au/scams.

How many scam calls have you had in the past month? Are you shocked that 30 million have been blocked?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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