Ever received a scam text? Or fifty? You’re not alone. Since 2020, telecommunications companies have blocked around 549 million scam phone calls and texts, with the scam epidemic costing Aussies $6.5 million in 2021.
Well, we have some good news: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently finalised a crackdown on SMS scams. Australians will now be protected under new rules that force telcos to take action against scammers. These new rules mean companies like Telstra and Optus are now required to identify, trace and block text fraud.
While this sounds like a positive step forward, experts have warned that it won’t stop financial crimes: scammers will simply move on to a new form of technology to keep their schemes going.
Cassandra Cross, an associate professor at Queensland University of Technology, is concerned that Australia doesn’t have a co-ordinated approach to fraud prevention, and calls for Australia to have a national fraud policy.
Through our digital mentoring sessions we see at first-hand the devastating consequences scam text messages can have. It’s not simply about educating people about scams, as even the most “savvy” tech expert can fall prey to a scam. We need better policies and systems in place to stop them from coming through in the first place.
This article from The New Daily compares financial scams to a game of “whack-a-mole”. We’re highly motivated to stop financial crimes, but so are our adversaries.
So, what can we do? Well, while we wait for a co-ordinated strategy, let’s go over some important scam info:
- If you receive a call or text message that seems suspicious, don’t respond. Hang up or delete the message. Don’t click on any links, and don’t give out any personal information over the phone. Scammers rely on us feeling like the bad guy and not wanting to cause any hassle. However, your bank, for example, will never begrudge you being cautious and calling them back on the number listed on their website. Protect yourself first.
- Report scams here: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam. You don’t need to get into an argument with the scammers. Just go straight to this website and report them.
- Talk about scams with your friends and family. Even if you got scammed. Even if the communication made you frightened. Even if you’re embarrassed. The more we talk about it, the less power scammers have over us.
- Remember that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there, and we’re here to help.