Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Optus adds own scam blocking tech in Call Stop

It’s not just Telstra doing something to thwart scammers from hitting Aussie phones, as Optus unveils its own take on the area.

There could be good news for Optus customers when it comes to their phones in the coming weeks and months, and it may mean much fewer scams arriving on their device.

With over three billion dollars lost to scammers in 2022, Optus has been hard at work on a solution to prevent phones from seeing a type of scam, specifically focusing on the call back scam. That covers quite a few of the scams, particularly the ones where you’ll get a message advising you to call back, such as when scammers pretend to be a bank or even pretend to be your credit card company, and other ideas like it.

Call back scams work on the logic that instead of you being called and not believing the caller, you’re instead calling the scammer directly, confusing you with the idea that “you call them, so they’re clearly not a scam”. It’s a shift in the idea of cold calling, and one that can confuse many and make a lot of money for scammers in the process.

To fix this, Optus is launching Call Stop, a technology that will add phone numbers from an identified scam to a specific list, and when called, will divert the caller to an automated message. Instead of being connected to the scammer, callers on Optus connections will instead hear:

“The number you have called has been reported as being used for scam activities.”

That call will then be blocked, and essentially give you a big enough clue that this message was a scam, protecting you in the process. Call Developed in partnership with the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange and select banks, the concept aims to help callers not get lost in an abyss of fraudulent details, which is all too easy to do with any scam.

“We are always updating our technology and looking for new ways to fight off scams across the country,” said Andrew Sheridan, Vice President of Regulatory and Public Affairs at Optus.

“Call Stop is our latest weapon in this battle and protects customers when they have been tricked into ringing a scam number,” he said. “The automated message very clearly exposes the scam, and the number is then blocked.”

The Optus approach is one of the many options telcos have taken, with Cleaner Pipes being the Telstra option, while other telcos around there world have taken to using degrees of artificial intelligence to block and thwart scam attempts. While it won’t quite fix the number of scams using phishing websites to trick customers, it’s a start, and a step in the right direction.

There is clearly so much more that can be done, though Optus does note that it has managed to block 320 million scam calls since December 2020, and almost 80 million SMS scams in the past year, currently blocking 10 millions text scams each and every month.

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