Government tackling scam phone calls

Detecting, tracing and blocking scam calls

They are the nuisance calls that can have devastating consequences for vulnerable people.

The Australian Government is taking actions to detect, trace and block scam calls, unveiling a new industry code that will help put a stop to the calls.

Federal Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie said scam calls are a serious problem and can have damaging financial consequences for victims.

Australians have lost nearly $36 million to scam calls in 2020.

Dr Gillespie welcomed 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).

The Code sets out the processes for telcos to identify, trace and block scam calls.

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 over the past year.

"The Government is serious about tackling scam calls," Dr Gillespie said.

"The Reducing Scam Calls Code will work alongside the other measures we have announced to tackle scams, including the new industry standard I announced earlier this year to stamp out fraudulent mobile number porting."

For more information about what the Government is doing to prevent scams, go to https://www.acma.gov.au/scams-and-online-misinformation.