Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said a range of people and groups used bulk text messages to scam, defraud, or infect devices with malicious code, and that innovative and ever-evolving approaches continued to trick victims into compromising their devices and data.
“Scam SMS messages often impersonate well known businesses or government agencies to ‘phish’ for personal information or seek to install malware or ransomware on a device,” Andrews said.
“The regulatory amendment we have enacted provides the telecommunications sector with the authority they need to block malicious SMS messages at scale and protect the Australian public from scammers.
“The Morrison Government is committed to collaborating with industry to tackle new and emerging threats to the Australian community, including scams that exploit digital technologies for nefarious ends.”
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher said, “As we announced last month, the Morrison Government has successfully blocked scammers from sending text messages appearing to come from legitimate government sender IDs, including Centrelink, myGov, and the Australian Taxation Office.
“In addition, as a result of the Morrison Government’s Reducing Scam Calls Code, more than 214 million scam calls have been blocked since December 2020.
“The measure we are announcing today is a further indication of how seriously we take this form of illegal activity.”
This year, SMS and phone scam reports are double those reported to Scamwatch in 2020, resulting in over $87 million being lost by the Australian community.
Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton said, "We certainly welcome the new regulation under the TIA Act – it goes a long way toward providing the clarity and certainty that we have sought from the Federal Government over recent months.
"We expect to soon release for public comment some additional industry code provisions, specifically targeting SMS-based scams. These should form part of our existing Reducing Scam Calls industry code, which is registered by the industry regulator, the ACMA and is enforceable."
Practical information to help Australians stay secure from cybercrime is available at the Australian Government’s dedicated cyber security website.
This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 30 November 2021.