Australian Regulator Cracks Down on Telcos for SMS Scam Compliance Failures

ACMA takes action against telcos for compliance failures exploited by scammers in SMS impersonation scams. Investigations reveal non-compliant SMS numbers used in road toll, Medicare, and Australia Post scams. Telcos face consequences for inadequate processes, while ACMA emphasizes the importance of recognizing and preventing impersonation scams.


  • ACMA cracks down on telcos over compliance failures exploited by scammers in SMS scams.
  • Sinch, Infobip, and Phone Card found to have allowed non-compliant SMS to be sent without sufficient checks.
  • Telcos face enforcement actions and penalties for breaching code obligations.

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Australian Regulator Cracks Down on Telcos for SMS Scam Compliance Failures

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has taken firm action against several telecommunications companies following compliance failures that enabled scammers to send SMS scams impersonating road toll, Medicare, and Australia Post services to unsuspecting consumers.

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Compliance Failures Exploited by Scammers

In its investigations, the ACMA discovered that Sinch Australia (Sinch), Infobip Information Technology (Infobip), and Phone Card Selector (Phone Card) allowed SMS messages to be sent using text-based sender IDs without implementing adequate checks to verify their legitimacy.

Infobip was found to have allowed the transmission of 103,146 non-compliant SMS messages, including scams pretending to be well-known Australian road toll companies. Sinch, on the other hand, enabled the transmission of 14,291 non-compliant SMS messages, some of which involved scams impersonating Medicare and Australia Post.

Although Phone Card was also found to have inadequate systems in place to ensure compliance, there is no evidence that scammers exploited the opportunities it created.

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Telcos' Responsibility and ACMA's Actions

Scammers often utilize text-based sender IDs to pose as legitimate organizations, such as government agencies, banks, or road toll companies. Under the Reducing Scam Calls and Scam SMS Code, Australian telcos are required to obtain evidence from customers justifying their legitimate use of text-based sender IDs, such as using business names in SMS communications.

Scams that impersonate reputable organizations can be especially difficult for consumers to identify, and the full extent of the damage caused by these scam texts is unknown.

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Formal Directions and Warnings

As a response, Sinch and Infobip have been issued formal directions by the ACMA to comply with their obligations, which represent the strongest enforcement action available for breaches of the code. Phone Card has received a formal warning from the authority.

Addressing SMS and identity theft scams is a top compliance priority for the ACMA, and telcos that fail to comply with the code may face penalties of up to $250,000.

Also Read: TRAI Issues Directions to Telcos to Curb Unauthorized Promotions Using Telecom Resources

Government's Initiative to Prevent Scammers

In addition, the ACMA welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government regarding the development of an SMS sender ID register. This register aims to prevent offshore scammers from impersonating trusted brands and government agencies, thereby closing a significant vulnerability exploited by scammers.

The ACMA expressed its readiness to collaborate with industry stakeholders and trusted brands to implement this new protective measure.

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Telecom Analyst

Passionately following the Indian #Telecom Industry for over a decade from Business, Consumer and a Technical perspective. My primary focus area is Consumer & Digital Experience.

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