Australian telcos blocked 55 million scam calls, regulator reports

scam calls

Australian telcos have blocked 55 million scam calls to Australian phone numbers since new rules requiring providers to detect, trace and block scam calls were introduced in December 2020 by the Australian Communications and Media Regulator (ACMA).

According to the regulatory body, the total number of blocked scam calls include nearly 11 million ‘Wangiri’ scam calls, where scammers ring once from an international number, resulting in high premium phone charges for those who call back, and 44 million calls using spoofed or made-up numbers.

The Reducing Scam Calls Code (the code) was developed by the telco industry in response to the ACMA’s Combating Scams Action Plan. Chair of the ACMA’s Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce Fiona Cameron said the new data showed the code is beginning to bite.

“Each scam call blocked is one less potential victim and a step towards rebuilding confidence for Australians that it’s safe to answer a ringing phone,” Cameron said in a statement, while expressing pleasure in seeing the code having a real impact in its initial months, particularly in busting the ‘one ring’ Wangiri and Calling Line ID spoofing scams.

“However, this isn’t a silver bullet. We are seeing scammers become increasingly sophisticated so it’s important that telcos stay vigilant and keep up the fight; we expect to see the number of blocked scam calls increase (even) as telcos enhance their technology and capability to protect their customers,” the Taskforce head added.

Cameron also highlighted that consumers can also play their part in stopping scammers.

“If something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. If someone you’ve never heard from is asking for your personal details, it’s probably a scam. The best thing you can do is hang up,” she said.

According to ACCC Scamwatch data, Australians lost over $48 million to scam calls in 2020. Phone scams accounted for 48 percent of all scams reported. Phone scams are an ACMA compliance priority, and telcos face penalties of up to $250,000 for breaching ACMA directions to comply with the code.

If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank and phone company immediately, the Australian regulator advises.