Telstra turns on ‘scam filter’ designed to block malicious text messages
Posted On April 7, 2022
Telstra users could see a reduction in malicious scam texts after the telco turned on a “complex” filter designed to block suspicious SMS messages before they arrive on their devices.
In a letter to customers, outgoing CEO Andrew Penn said Telstra was prompted to use the technology after customers reported an explosion of scam texts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The filter will be automatically applied to Telstra users, who have the ability to opt-out if requested.
“If a SMS message looks suspicious, we’ll block it before it reaches you,” Mr Penn wrote.
“Automatic machine scanning picks out suspicious content such as malicious links and combines this with other patterns and characteristics like the time, sender, the number of messages sent and the recipient.
“Telstra takes its privacy obligations seriously.
“We know there’s a fine balance between protecting our customers and ensuring their privacy.
“While the technology is learning, it might flag a potential suspicious message asking if it is a scam.
“To avoid blocking something legitimate, the new message format may be reviewed by our specialists to identify if the message is a scam, but the details of the recipients will remain masked.”
Mr Penn pledged legitimate messages will still get through and that Telstra will not block commercial messages from banks and other large businesses, government departments and emergency alerts.
“While we’re confident our SMS scam filter will block a significant amount of scam text messages, it isn’t fool-proof and criminals evolve and find new ways to scam us so we’ve all got to continue to be alert to suspicious messages – even the ones that might slip through,” Mr Penn said.
“The capability under the bonnet is complex and evolving (it has to be to continue to help outsmart scammers) but in simple terms we’re applying knowledge of what scam text messages look like to block them at the network level.”
Scamwatch’s most recent report found that in 2021 Australians reported a record $211 million lost to scams during the height of the Delta strain of COVID-19.
Phone-based scams – such as scam text messages – accounted for 31 per cent of the losses from a staggering 113,000 reports.
Telstra users who do not want any SMS messages sent to you being blocked, you can opt out by sending an SMS to 0438 214 682 with the words “FILTER OFF”.