ACMA introduces new rules to tackle SMS scams

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has registered new rules to require telecos to identify, trace and block SMS scams.

The ACMA worked alongside industry body Communications Alliance to develop the Reducing Scam Calls and Scam Short Messages industry code in response to evidence that SMS scams are increasing in prevalence and impact.

According to Nerida O’Loughlin – chair of ACMA – the new rules are the latest step towards providing better protections for consumers against scams and making Australia a harder target for scammers.

She said, “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.

“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.

“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. The harder we make it for scammers, the less Australians are likely to be targeted.”

O’Loughlin stated that the action to target SMS scams will build on the previous 2020 industry code that tackled scam calls. She mentioned that in the first 16 months after said code was put in place, telecos reported blocking over 549 million scam calls to Australian phone numbers.

Under the new rules, telecos are required to publish information to assist their customers to proactively manage and report SMS scams, share information about scam messages with other telecos and report identified scams to authorities.

The ACMA added that telecos will face penalties of up to $250,000 for breaching ACMA directions to comply with the new code.

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