The Australian government, alongside the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has introduced a new code to help detect, trace and block scam calls. And if telcos don’t comply they could be charged up to $250,000.
Scam calls are running rampant in Australia
The Reducing Scam Calls code has been produced in conjunction with the Australian telecommunications industry to help combat the rise of scam phone calls across the country.
According to ACMA, large Australian telcos reported 30 million blocked calls across the last 12 months alone.
Scamwatch Data from the ACCC also reveals that $35.6 million has been lost to these calls in 2020. Further to this, scam phone calls made up 46 per cent of all scams reported.
While call blocking is already occurring, the new code will make telcos take more responsibility for them.
“The code is a unique and ground-breaking contribution to global regulatory efforts to prevent the harms caused by scammers. It is a holistic, end-to-end framework for effective scam reduction activity,” ACMA Telecommunications Action Taskforce Chair, Fiona Cameron, said in a statement.
“There is no silver bullet to reduce scams, but these new rules place clear obligations on industry to do more to protect their customers and build confidence that it’s safe to answer a ringing phone.”
ACMA has stated that companies can face penalties up t0 $250,000 if they fail to comply with the code.
What the new code actually does
From today telcos must monitor their networks for dodgy calls as well as have the capability to trace calls that are occurring on their network.
“A C/CSP must have processes in place to trace the origin of alleged Scam Calls, originating on its own network,” section 4.4.1 of the code reads.
From there, a telco must move to block the calls.
“Where Scam Calls are confirmed, C/CSPs must as soon as practicable take action to Block the Scam Calls being originated and/or carried over their network in accordance with this section (unless the C/CSP has evidence that the Public Number has been subject to CLI Spoofing),” the code states.
Companies are also required to alert other telcos as well as relevant government agencies about suspicious calls occurring on its network.
Further to this the code ensures that Australian telcos provide adequate educational material regarding scam calls to its customers.
According to section 3.1.1, they “must make available on their websites, up-to-date guidance material for customers which may include: the types of Scam Call related fraud risks to which customers may be exposed; information about products or services to assist in blocking suspicious or unwanted international or domestic calls; the steps customers could take to mitigate those risks.”
Earlier this year ACMA brought in new standards to protect against fraudulent number porting. This requires telcos to add an additional verification process to identify users such as two-factor authenticartion.
The new standard requires telcos to add at least one additional verification process besides the existing general standard of usual identifying factors, such as your date of birth or place of residence.