The Federal Government is taking action to detect, trace and block the increasing prevalence of scam calls, unveiling a new industry code that will help put a stop to the calls.
The Reducing Scam Calls Code, which has been developed by the telco industry and has been registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), sets out the processes for telcos to identify, trace and block scam calls.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said scam calls were a serious problem and could have damaging financial consequences for victims.
“Just this year alone, fellow Australians had lost nearly $36 million to scam calls,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s a scourge all too prevalent here in the New England with many of our vulnerable and isolated local residents often the target of these phoning fraudsters.
“But scammers are on notice, we’re shutting down your operations.”
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.
Telcos are already taking action to stop scammers and have blocked more than 30 million scam calls in the past year.
The Reducing Scam Calls Code will work alongside the other measures also announced to tackle scams, including the new industry standard to stamp out fraudulent mobile number porting
For more information about what the Government is doing to prevent scams, go to: www.acma.gov.au/scams-and-online-misinformation