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Australia-US to collaborate in fight against phone scams

Smartphone indicating a call from an unknown number

Australia and the United States will work together more closely to combat unlawful robocalls, unsolicited texts and phone scams under a new agreement signed by the two country’s respective communications regulators.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week that will see them share intelligence, assist each other in appropriate investigations, and coordinate enforcement against cross-border entities.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the agreement builds on the already strong strategic and working relationship between the ACMA and FCC in the regulation of unsolicited communications.

“Scam activity has significant social and economic impact on consumers, with the scale and sophistication of malicious activity increasing,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“This agreement will see us working closer with our American counterparts to crack down on unsolicited communications in instances where cross-border issues are involved.”

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said robocall scams are a global problem that require global commitment and cooperation. 

“With these irritating calls coming from near and far, we need international cooperation, information sharing, and enforcement to address this matter,” she said. 

“I want to thank our Australian friends for working with us on this agreement. By joining together we can help get these scammers off of our networks and protect consumers and businesses around the world.”

The disruption of phone scams is a 2021-22 compliance priority for the ACMA. In March the ACMA revealed that 55 million scam calls to Australian phone numbers had been blocked since new rules requiring telcos to detect, trace and block scam calls were introduced in December 2020.

The full MOU, titled Mutual Assistance in the Enforcement of Laws on certain unlawful communications, has been published on the ACMA website.

MR 16/2021

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