Next month’s budget will include a $10 million crackdown on the criminal behaviour aiming to increase cyber security for individuals and businesses.
In 2022, at least half of Australia’s 25.7 million population received a fake text message at one point.
And research shows one-in-three scammers use text message, compared with 29 per cent who target their victims with a phone call.
The major part of the government initiative will be the creation of an SMS sender ID Registry to help telecommunication companies recognise scammers imitating trusted brands.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland told Weekend Today the registry – based on current schemes in Singapore and the UK – aimed to ensure trusted brands could not be imitated by scammers.
“To give a practical example like Australia Post, a lot of people might get texts from Australia Post and it says it is from Australia Post and says a delivery is coming, will you be home, a delivery is on its way.
“What scammers are currently able to do is copy that header using a different originating number and slip it into that legitimate stream so it is totally insidious but it looks completely legitimate.
“So … the registry will actually have a list of numbers that Australia Post says are their legitimate numbers. If a scammer tries to use a different number, the telco will block that from getting on to someone’s device.”
While Rowland said there was no “silver bullet” to defeating scammers, she said recent measures were having some success.
“Since July last year, we have had a requirement on telcos to have systems in place that detect, trace and block scam texts.
“There’s been some 90 million scam texts blocked and that’s in addition to about half and that’s in addition to about half a billion scam calls.”
Rowland said the SMS sender ID Registry should take 12 months to be up and running.