Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP is urging people not to start the new year on a bad note by being scammed as the Morrison Government takes further actions to detect, trace and block scam calls, with the unveiling of a new industry code that will help put a stop to the calls.
The Reducing Scam Calls Code has been developed by the telco industry and registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The Code sets out the processes for telcos to identify, trace and block scam calls.
“Australians lost nearly $36 million to scam calls in 2020,” Tony Pasin said.
“Over the past year, the telcos have stopped scammers and blocked more than 30 million scam calls including most notably the ATO scam.
“This new Reducing Scam Calls Code works alongside the other measures the Morrison Government has announced to tackle scam calls. This includes a new industry standard to stamp out fraudulent mobile number porting.”
Over the course of 2020, the Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce, comprising representatives from the telecommunications industry, government and the communications regulator, has been focused on tackling three scams – the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) scam, ‘Wangiri’ scam calls and international scam calls:
1. ATO scam: In this scam, Australians were receiving calls which appeared to come from a legitimate phone number used by the ATO – this is calling “overstamping” or “spoofing”. In the 12 months to October 2019, the ATO received over 160,000 reports of scams involving spoofed numbers – an average of more than 10,000 per month. Telcos used software to identify calls using ATO numbers and block them.
2. Wangiri scam calls: ‘Wangiri’ is Japanese for “one ring and drop’” Victims receive a missed call, often from an international number. When they call back, the call is charged at a premium rate. The ‘Reducing Scam Calls Code requires the telco industry to monitor, trace and block Wangiri call scams.
3. International scam calls: Evidence suggests that the majority of scam traffic originates from overseas. The Reducing Scam Calls Code requires the telco industry to monitor, trace and work with international carriers to block international call scams.
The latest action to stamp out scammers comes after the Morrison Government announced a measure in 2019 to stop scammers hijacking peoples’ mobile phone numbers in order to steal money from their accounts. ACMA was formally directed to make an industry standard mandating stronger identity verification processes before mobile numbers can be transferred between providers.
Scammers take advantage of number porting rules (which allow people to keep their number when changing providers) to steal a victim’s mobile phone number and then get around verification processes (e.g. authorising bank transfers using verification codes sent by text message to the fraudulently ported number). The industry standard commenced on 30 April 2020.
For more information about what the Government is doing to prevent scams, go to https://www.acma.gov.au/scams-and-online-misinformation.
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