• Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

Scam texts: Aussies given power to ‘dob in’ dodgy messages

ByGurinderbir Singh

May 24, 2023

Telstra has joined the fight to stop scammers from ripping off Australians, giving its customers the power to ‘dob in’ pesky SMS and MMS scams to a national text line.

Customers of the telco can now forward suspicious text messages to a designated reporting number – 7226 (spelling ‘SCAM’ on the dial pad) – free of charge.

It comes as part of the telco’s Cleaner Pipes initiative, a push that has helped to block on average 23 million SMS scams each month since it was launched in April 2022.

And despite the initiative’s effectiveness in stopping scammers in their tracks, Telstra said it was letting customers take matters into their own hands because “we can’t catch everything”.

“Our technology is evolving so it’s important that everyone remains vigilant and alert to the rise in scam activity, and we all have a part to play in helping to secure our personal and private data to help protect it from criminals who want to profit from it,” it said in the announcement.

To use the SCAM reporting line, Telstra customers just need to forward any SMS or MMS message they believe to be a scam to ‘7226’.

It works for both Android and iPhone users through a similar process: tapping and holding the message you want to report, tapping ‘More’ (for an iPhone), or the three dots that indicate the menu on an Android device. Then select ‘Forward’, enter ‘7226’ as the addressee and hit ‘send’.

And hey presto, Telstra will look after the rest.

The telco said it will not charge customers for sending the report and it will not reply to customers.

It will, however, investigate the message and take appropriate action on behalf of the customer – whether that is blocking the sender or reporting the message to relevant authorities.

It is a welcome move from Telstra, the first Australian telco to offer customers the chance to ‘snitch’ on scammers, given the growing problem scam messages are causing around the country.

According to the latest Scamwatch data, texts are the most common form of scam, with around 43 per cent of scams reported between January and April this year being via SMS.

Australians have already reportedly lost at least $100m to scams my the end of March this year, according to the scam watchdog. This is an increase of 36 per cent from the same period last year, when the total loss was $71m.

In 2022, scammers were expected to pocket $4bn from Australians in 2022, Scamwatch estimated – at least double what it was in 2021.

Scamwatch has received over 146,700 reports totalling more than $381.2 million as of August 31.

The text line comes after Australia’s banks unveiled their own weapon to stop money being sent to scammers in real-time, by letting customers report fraudulent payments.

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