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

The ACMA worked closely with industry peak 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.

Providers are also now required to publish information to assist their customers to proactively manage and report SMS scams, to share information about scam messages with other mobile providers and report identified scams to authorities.

Dr Mike Freelander, the Federal Member for Macarthur, has welcomed this decision, as it is a step towards protecting Australians, their identity, and their money, and it will help disrupt the business model of scammers.

“Most Australians have either received a scam text message, or they know someone who has, and as such they know how easy it can be to fall into the trap,” Dr Freelander said.

“These new rules aim to disrupt scammers’ business models, which will help to protect vulnerable Australians against scammers accessing their bank account, social media and online businesses.”

According to ACCC ScamWatch data, financial losses from SMS scams this year to date increased by 188% compared to the same period in 2021 – from around $2.3 million to over $6.5 million. SMS scams accounted for about 32% of all reported scams to date this year.

It takes scammers an average of 7 days from the initial theft of personal and account information for criminals to commit multiple identity crimes with that information.

“We must help protect our most vulnerable Australians against scammers accessing their bank accounts, social media and online businesses,” said Anne Stanley, Federal Member for Werriwa.

“While these measures will improve and protect this should serve as a reminder to everyone to be careful when making transactions online”.

These measures follow separate new anti-scam rules that came into force on 30 June 2022, requiring telecommunication providers to use multi-factor authentication before approving high-risk customer transactions, including SIM swap.

Providers will face penalties of up to $250,000 for breaching ACMA directions to comply with the rules.