Spam and Scam Text Message Detection

Details Publication date: May 23rd, 2022

Text messages that are not wanted can be extremely frustrating, especially when it seems as though there is nothing that can be done to stop them. However, some people send text messages with the intention of hurting other people, and these messages should be treated with extreme caution.

According to Scamwatch, Australians lost more than $1 million. 4 million people fell victim to fraudulent text messages just in January. According to the findings of that report, scammers are using text messages more than any other medium to target unsuspecting individuals. There are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe, despite the fact that the government and the telecommunications industry have both announced that they are looking into solutions for this problem.

When it comes to figuring out what actions to take to cut down on annoying marketing messages and fraudulent text messages, having a good understanding of the differences between the two is essential.
Avoid receiving messages that are annoying while also ensuring your safety. A man holding a credit card in one hand, and a phone in the other

Due to the fact that phishing and spam text messages can have very similar appearances, differentiating between the two can be challenging.

Scam messages

Text messages that contain malicious content and are sent to you by cybercriminals in an attempt to deceive you are called scam texts. The person who sent you the text might try to get you to hand over personal information or click on a link that could put you in danger. If you disclose this information, you put yourself at risk of having your identity stolen or of being the victim of fraud. In addition, clicking on links that appear to be suspicious can give con artists access to your device and enable them to install malware, which gives them access to information that ought to be kept private.

Unwanted text messages

Text messages that are classified as spam are those that are not wanted and typically originate from a legitimate company. Spam messages frequently contain advertisements for deals or other types of offers. They ought to incorporate an option to opt out, such as texting the word "stop" back to the sender. You can file a complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) via their website if you continue to receive messages from a company after you have unsubscribed or opted out of receiving them, or if you have not consented to signing up for the company's mailing list. This email address has spambots locked out. Please do not use it. To view it, you need to have JavaScript enabled.

Please visit the website of the ACMA for further information.

What measures is the government taking to prevent people from receiving fraudulent text messages?

Because fraudulent text messages have become such a significant problem, the Australian government has announced a number of measures that are intended to reduce the number of fraudulent text messages that are sent to Australians. The Ministry of Communications has issued a press release in which they highlight the fact that the government will be partnering with industry to stop fraudulent text messages. As a result of changes made to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, telecommunications companies now have the legal authority to prevent consumers from receiving SMS messages that appear to be part of a fraudulent scheme. In addition, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has devised a plan of action and established a taskforce to combat scams against telecommunications companies in order to assist the industry in its response to the growing number of scams.

In addition, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has just recently announced that they will be collaborating with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in order to provide mutual assistance with respect to investigations into illegal telemarketing and spam. It will be easier to combat spam text messages on a global front if countries share their strategic approaches and intelligence with one another to help each other with global investigations. Please click here to view the complete press release.

What steps is the industry taking to eliminate fraudulent text messages?

Telcos are currently conducting pilot programs in order to "train" their systems to recognize the distinctions between legitimate text messages and fraudulent text messages, which will allow them to intercept fraudulent text messages before they reach customers. For instance, Telstra is extending their Cleaner Pipes initiative to cover text messages as part of their current plans. They have just activated a brand-new SMS scam filter that is capable of blocking these messages at the network level, long before they even reach your mobile device. On the Telstra website, you can find additional information regarding this new filter technology. In the meantime, notifying Scamwatch of fraudulent text messages can assist regulators in identifying new types of fraud.

The group that represents the Australian telecommunications industry, Communications Alliance, has also announced that they will be revising the Reducing Scam Calls and Scam SMS Industry Code. The code outlines procedures that can be followed to cut down on the amount of fraudulent calls and messages that are sent to Australians. ACCAN is of the opinion that this code could be improved even further by making certain that information regarding fraudulent calls and messages is not difficult to locate for anyone. To view the complete submission made by ACCAN, please click here.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

It is important to differentiate between spam text messages and scam text messages, as this can assist you in determining the most appropriate response to the message that you have received.

As soon as you've established the nature of the message that was sent to you, you'll be able to begin considering the next steps that are required of you. The following table provides a rundown of some of the things that you can do in order to try and cut down on the number of unsolicited messages that are sent to your mobile device.

Type of message How to recognize it What you can do Spam text message
  • Originating from a legally recognized company
  • Publicizing a purchase, an offer, or some other type of commercial event
  • Doesn't ask for personal details
  • Should provide an option to opt out or unsubscribe from the service.
  • If a company requests that you provide them with your mobile number, you should make sure that you won't be subjected to unsolicited communication from them in the form of emails and text messages before you comply with their request.
  • Stop receiving emails and other communications from this company by unsubscribing or opting out. Businesses are required by law to make it simple for customers to opt out of receiving their emails. For further information, please see the ACMA's website.
  • If spam texts continue to arrive after you have unsubscribed from the company's service, you should report the company to the ACMA.
Swindle via text message
  • Originating from an ominous number
  • Contains a link that raises questions.
  • Offers something that sounds too good to be true (like a prize or money, for instance), but actually delivers it.
  • Identifies themselves as being from the government, Australia Post, your bank, or another legitimate organization.
  • Message that begins with five to nine random lowercase letters or numbers, then proceeds to inform you that you have missed a call, leave you a voicemail message, or direct you to a website link.
  • DO NOT call the number that was sent in the text message, nor should you click on any links.
  • Delete the message as soon as possible.
  • If you are unsure about whether or not it is a scam, check the Scamwatch website for any recent scams that are currently making the rounds, and get a second opinion from a close friend or member of your family.
  • Some call blocking applications, which users can download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, also work to assist with blocking unwanted texts from being received on a mobile device. Read up on the available features, as well as the ratings and comments left by previous customers and reviews written by industry professionals.
  • You can also try getting in touch with your service provider of telecommunications to find out more information about how you can prevent fraudulent text messages from being sent to you.
  • Visit the Apple Support page for more information on how to delete fraudulent text messages from your Apple device. You can find the help and support page for Google and Android right here.

ACCAN is aware of how irritating it can be to continuously get these messages, particularly when it appears that there is nothing that can be done to stop them. While individuals can try to cut down on the number of spam or scam text messages they receive by putting the aforementioned suggestions into practice, more action is required on the part of both the government and the industry to ensure that Australians are not negatively impacted. We will continue to advocate for stronger consumer protections against unsolicited commercial text messages such as spam and scams.

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