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Telstra Activates SMS Scam Filter

Telstra has today activated a brand-new SMS scam filter aimed to stop thousands of text scams reported by customers in 2021.

The filter will block such messages at the network level. Telstra starting working on this feature after reports of malicious texts to Android devices leaped from just 50 in 2020, to over 11,000.

Around 2,500 Telstra employees have been testing the feature for the last three months, on an internal pilot program. The telco reports that the filter has been successful in detecting and blocking hundreds of scam SMS messages every day.

“Scam text messages are not only annoying, they’re also malicious and have the potential to steal your money or install malware to steal personal information, hack your internet banking and infect your contacts,” outgoing CEO Andy Penn explained.

“If a SMS message looks suspicious, we’ll block it before it reaches you. 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.”

The system isn’t foolproof. Penn says that commercial messages from banks and other large businesses, government departments, Emergency Alerts and Telstra applications like MessageBank will not be filtered.

Telstra customers can also opt out of the service, by sending an SMS to 0438214682 with the words FILTER OFF.

The filter is on by default, starting from today.

 



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