ACMA fighting spoof callers as tax scam claims millions more

“In the months of December, January and February, there were 61,311 total scam reports with 486 taxpayers who paid $1,296,307 to scammers,” an ATO spokesperson said.

The regulator is undertaking a “combatting scams” project, hoping to report back by the end of 2019 on a suggested models for stopping scam calls from making their way to Australia in the first place.

ACMA member Fiona Cameron said the topic of phone spoofing is a challenging one and ACMA does not have the powers to trace the original source of a number when technology is used to mask the “calling line identification” (CLI), or the number that comes up as the caller ID.

The regulator allocates phone numbers to Australian phone service providers but it notes “the allocation and issue arrangements for numbers have no relation to the CLI for a call”, meaning it can’t track or block spoofed numbers as they happen.

“It’s very hard to find an originating number. There isn’t a lot of spoofing that goes on domestically any more, and numbers are re-routed around the world,” Ms Cameron said.

While Australia has a ‘Do Not Call’ register it does not have a formal framework for authenticating where calls originate from.


ACMA’s paper looks at different models overseas, including the US, where telco providers are increasingly using a standardised spoof-detection database to warn customers when numbers are potentially coming from scammers.

Roundtables will commence to discuss these models this week, with submissions on fighting scams open until May 10.

The authority is not set to report on this space until December 2019 and with Australians losing thousands to criminal activity each month, businesses and individuals need to stay vigilant, Ms Cameron said.


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