Scammer crackdown starts
The Federal Government has announced a crackdown on Australia's $500 million phone scam problem.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) says phone scams are growing in prevalence, and will leave Australians a record $500 million out of pocket this year alone.
The calls usually consist of someone purporting to be from a well-known organisation like the Australian Taxation Office or the National Broadband Network to deceive people into handing over their information or paying money.
Another technique is for scammers to call and immediately hang up. When people call the number back, they are charged an expensive premium call rate.
ACMA has recommended three trials – the first is for a “do not originate” list compiling the numbers scammers to disguise their calls, the second looks at whether telecommunications companies can identify and block calls where the caller hangs up, and the third will try to pinpoint overseas phone numbers used for scams.
Federal Communications and Cyber Safety Minister Paul Fletcher says the first trial is underway, and the Government will look at the two other trials early next year.
“This has been a growing problem, with scammers using the phone numbers of organisations like the Australian Tax Office and the National Broadband Network, so the telcos will be trialling measures to block this,” Mr Fletcher said.
“This is the Australian Communications and Media Authority working with the telecommunications industry to try and block these scams, which have caused real problems and inconvenience for quite a number of Australians.”
The lobby for the telecoms industry, the Communications Alliance, says it is “comfortable with the way the plan's been put together”.
“It's very often the case that if you shut down or disrupt scammers, they're very good at resurfacing quickly in another place and resuming their activities,” Communications Alliance chief John Stanton said.
“So it's never a battle you'll win 100 per cent. It's about trying to minimise the risk and trying to make it as difficult as possible for scammers.
“We're creating an industry code as well, that will be a registered and enforceable code that will enshrine some of the improvements around detection, analysis, coordination and blocking of numbers, so there are independent industry efforts going on at the same time.”