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A new telecommunications industry code which promises to help protect the public and block scam telephone calls will give Gippslanders peace of mind, says local MP Darren Chester.

Mr Chester has welcomed the new code developed by the telecommunications industry to help detect, trace and block scam calls.

“Australians lost nearly $36 million to scam telephone calls this year,” Mr Chester said. “They are a serious problem and can have devastating financial consequences for those who fall victim.

“Almost everyone with a telephone would have received a call from a scammer.

“The caller might be overseas or here in Australia. Wherever they are ringing from, it is unnerving to receive this kind of call.”

The Reducing Scam Calls Code was registered this week with the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The code sets out the processes for telecommunications companies to identify, trace and block scam calls.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said the Federal Government was serious about tackling scam calls.

“The Reducing Scam Calls Code will work alongside the other measures we have announced to tackle scams, including the new industry standard I announced earlier this year to stamp out fraudulent mobile number porting,” Mr Fletcher said.

Telcos are already taking action to stop scammers and have blocked more than 30 million scam calls over the past year. During 2020, the Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce, comprising representatives from the telecommunications industry, government and the communications regulator, has been focused on tackling three scams. They are:

ATO scam: Calls were received which appeared to come from a legitimate phone number used by the ATO (this is called “overstamping” or “spoofing”). In the 12 months to October 2019, the ATO received over 160,000 reports of scams involving spoofed numbers. Telcos used software to identify calls using ATO numbers and block them.

Wangiri scam calls: Victims received a missed call, often from an international number, and when they called back the call was charged at a premium rate. The Reducing Scam Calls Code requires the telco industry to monitor, trace and block Wangiri call scams. ‘Wangiri’ is Japanese for ‘one ring and drop’.

International scam calls: Evidence suggests that most scam traffic originates from overseas. The Reducing Scam Calls Code requires the telco industry to monitor, trace and work with international carriers to block international call scams.

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