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Telcos block 1 billion scam calls: Here’s how you can protect yourself

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Malicious phone calls and texts are on the rise in Australia, but there are things you can do to protect yourself if you're in the middle of being scammed.

The number of scam calls blocked by telcos rose to 1.4 billion in the last financial year, while messages have grown to 256 million according to new figures.

The stats, released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), show a startling number of scammers are trying to rip off Aussies.

And it's only been growing throughout the financial year:

  • Between July to September 2022 there were 143.7 million scam calls and 47.8 million scam texts
  • Fast forward and in April to June 2023 the figures have jumped to 256 million calls and 85 million texts
  • This is almost a 33% increase in scam messages

Are Australians falling for these messages?

Unfortunately, separate research released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows Aussies are losing billions to these scams.

This is due to scammers becoming more sophisticated.

According to the ACCC's figures, $3.1 billion was lost in 2022.

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe says the number of scams being reported fell, but the losses grew by 50% on last year, reaching almost $20,000.

"Scammers evolve quickly and unfortunately, many Australians are losing their life savings," Ms Lowe said in a media statement.

3 tips to help protect yourself from scammers

Even though scams are on the rise, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Scammers will often play on information that is familiar to you or try to keep you on the phone in order to pressure you into giving away precious information or your money.

Finder's tech expert Angus Kidman advises:

  1. Don't ever click a link in a text message. Reputable companies won't include one, but scammers always will.
  2. Never share your credit card details or passwords over the phone or through a text message.
  3. If you answer your phone and someone insists you need to pay a bill immediately, tell them you'll check and call back. Then hang up immediately.

How mobile providers are protecting you from scammers

In addition to protecting yourself, you can set up scam filters on your mobile phone with the major providers.

Telstra allows you to opt in and out of a scam filter. If you want to opt in, you'll need to send an SMS to 0438 214 682 with the words FILTER ON.

If you're having issues with scammers and you're with Vodafone, you can call 1555 or 1300 650 410 from any phone and Vodafone will put the number on an 'unwelcome call report'.

Optus has joined the major banks to start 'Call Stop'. Call Stop prevents Optus customers who call an identified scam number from reaching the fraudster and instead forwards the call to an automated message to warn customers of the scam.

If you've received a scam phone call or message, you can report it to the Australian government's Scamwatch website.

Image: @Pixelshot via Canva.com

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