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Aussies had 90 million scam texts blocked from phones

Aussie telcos blocked a staggering number of scam text messages in the past seven months.

Scam text messages
Aussies are receiving a staggering amount of scam text messages, new figures have revealed. (Source: Getty/ACMA)

Text messages are the most popular form of attack for scammers, and new figures have revealed just how many scam texts are being blocked.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation revealed more than 90 million suspected scam texts were blocked by Aussie telcos in just seven months.

This was revealed after telco Modica became the first company to be called out for breaching new anti-SMS scam rules, which were brought in by ACMA in mid-2022.

The industry watchdog found Modica allowed customers to send text messages using “text-based sender IDs” like names, without properly checking they weren’t being used to scam Aussies.

Scammers often use sender IDs to impersonate legitimate organisations, banks or road toll companies - such as with ATO and Linkt road toll scams.

"This is a widely used trick used by scammers to gain consumer trust,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“Sender IDs generally display as a name on mobile phones and impersonating well-known brands allows the texts to slip into legitimate message streams from the brands.”

ACMA’s investigation also found Modica did not have processes in place to ensure its customers had a legitimate reason to use sender IDs. It also failed to report the number of scam SMSs it had blocked, as required under the new rules.

“While we did not find evidence any scammers had used the vulnerability created by Modica, its failure to have adequate processes in place put people at risk of receiving SMS scams,” O’Loughlin said.

Modica received a warning and no fine. It has been told to comply with the new rules, or face penalties of up to $250,000.

Aussies reported more than 79,000 scam text messages in 2022, making it the most popular form of attack for scammers. In total, Aussies lost more than $28.5 million to text message scams.

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