Wednesday, 13 March 2019 11:28

Government, regulators move to disrupt scam telephone calls plaguing Australians Featured


New research on unsolicited calls in Australia shows that more than half the adults have received scam calls daily or weekly, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The ACMA, which undertook the research, released details on Wednesday, as the terms of reference for an Australian Government project to reduce harmful scam activity on telco networks were announced by the Australian Government.

The Scam Technology Project, led by the ACMA with representation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Cyber Security Centre, will explore ways to disrupt scam activity on telco networks.

The ACMA established the Scam Technology Project in December 2018, to explore practical technological solutions to address the rise in scam calls.

The Federal Government has welcomed the release of the terms of reference for the project, with the Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield asking the ACMA to identify practical solutions for addressing the consumer harms caused by international scam callers.

Fifield said the project was technically complex work and there were no quick fixes.

“Australians are sick of scam calls. This Government is taking action to combat the scammers”, he said.

Chair of the Scam Technology Project Reference Group, Fiona Cameron, said that the project represented a show of unity from Australian government agencies to minimise the scammer scourge.

“Scam activity is highly organised, increasingly sophisticated and undermines consumer confidence in communications services,” Cameron said.

“This project will investigate what can be done to disrupt scam communications activity, including possible consumer or network-based solutions like call blocking and network traffic authentication protocols.”

Data shared by the ACCC’s Scamwatch service shows that the number of scams being reported, and the amount of money lost to scams is increasing.

Cameron said it’s important for government and industry to respond to consumer concerns and implement a strong action plan.

“Industry, especially telco service providers, has an important role to play as it is responsible for the delivery of frontline consumer safeguards.

“We need to be better informed and armed to slow down the scammer tide. We also need to be aware that scammers listen and learn, and adapt their behaviour to suit the environment.”

A discussion paper will be released by the ACMA in the coming weeks seeking views from consumers, industry and government.

The ACMA says it will continue to engage with key stakeholders in the coming months, with a final report to be completed in December.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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