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Action on scams, spam and telemarketing: January to March 2023

 Our key actions

Penalties icon

Noah Rose (trading as Bet Deluxe) penalised $50,000 for breaches of the Spam Act. Businesses have paid $6.4 million in penalties in the last 18 months.

Scams Telcos blocked over 192.1 million scam calls and over 82.3 million scam SMS. A total of over 1.15 billion scam calls and 171.9 million scam SMS have now been blocked.

Compliance alerts

We took enforcement action for anti-scam rule breaches against 4 telcos providing bulk SMS services.

Our 2022–23 priorities

We have 2 compliance priorities for the 2022–23 financial year for unsolicited communications:

  1. Combating SMS and identity theft phone scams – enforcing new rules on telcos to use stronger ID checks and establishing new rules to reduce SMS scams.
  2. Enforcing SMS and email unsubscribe rules – concentrating on businesses that take no notice of customer unsubscribe requests or make it hard for them to unsubscribe.


Combating phone scams

We are taking the fight to scammers to disrupt their activities and protect Australians.

Scam blocking data obtained from telcos

Scam channel

January to March 2023

To date

Scam calls blocked

192.1+ million

1.15+ billion*

Scam SMS blocked

82.3+ million

171.9+ million**

* Since scam call blocking rules came into force on 2 December 2020.

** Since scam SMS rules came into force on 12 July 2022.


During the quarter, we investigated options to introduce a sender ID registry in Australia. This will help protect well-known brand and government agency SMS message headers from being used in impersonation scams. Sender ID scams trick people into thinking they are receiving legitimate texts from businesses or government agencies. We undertook this work at the request of the Minister for Communications.

We also:

  • Convened our collaborative Scam Action Telco Taskforce of government agencies, telcos, consumer reps and key organisations from across the economy to work on phone scam reduction initiatives.
  • Directed 3 SMS telco providers to comply with the Reducing Scam Calls and Scam SMs industry code. We formally warned one SMS telco for non-compliance with the code.
  • Audited telco compliance with rules to prevent identity theft and anti-scam SMS rules.
  • Issued consumer alerts about Telstra and Optus impersonation scams, variations on the ‘Hi Mum’ scam, and a myGov email and SMS scam.
  • Continued to work behind the scenes with telcos, government agencies and well-known brands to disrupt phone scams.

Find out more about how to protect yourself from phone scams.


Compliance with unsubscribe rules

Key actions and outcomes in our focus on unsubscribe rules include:

  • A $50,172 penalty paid by Noah Rose (trading as BetDeluxe) after it sent commercial email messages in breach of the Spam Act 2003. The messages, sent between December 2021 and February 2022, either did not include necessary sender contact details, or did not include a functional unsubscribe facility. We also accepted a 2-year court enforceable undertaking from the company, under which it will have an independent audit and implement improvements.
  • 549 compliance warnings and targeted fact sheets given to businesses identified from complaints to the ACMA as having potential issues with unsubscribe requirements.

Read more about our compliance priorities.

Key compliance issue: Scam SMS

In July 2022, we registered new rules in response to an increase in SMS scams and their prevalence and impact. Under the rules, telcos must identify, trace and block suspected SMS scams.

A key area the ACMA is currently looking at is telcos’ obligation to confirm customers wanting to use text-based sender IDs (i.e., the name of a business or government agency, such as ‘MyGov’ in message headers) have a legitimate reason to do so. This obligation is designed to help prevent well-known brands and government agencies being used in impersonation scams.

Impersonation of sender IDs is a key trick used by scammers to gain consumer trust. It also allows scam messages to appear in legitimate brand message threads on smartphones.

Recent ACMA investigations and audits of industry have found that, despite these new rules, some telcos are still not undertaking sufficient checks to ensure customers using text-based sender IDs have a legitimate right to do so. We are seeing strong indications scammers have used these vulnerabilities to send scam SMS campaigns.

Telcos are strongly urged to understand the rules set out in the code and to take appropriate steps to protect consumers. Effective scam reduction requires a consistent industry-wide approach, as weaknesses are likely to be ruthlessly targeted. The impact on consumers is serious, and the penalties for non-compliance can be significant.

Combating SMS and identity theft phone scams is an ACMA compliance priority. Telcos face penalties of up to $250,000 for breaching our directions to comply with the industry code.

Investigations and enforcement

We commenced 7 investigations and finalised 10 in the quarter. We had 5 underway at the end of the quarter.

Investigations took 2.4 months on average to complete.

We monitored compliance with 17 court-enforceable undertakings currently in force. These set out actions businesses must take to improve their compliance with spam, scam and/or telemarketing laws.

View our enforcement actions for breaches of spam and telemarketing laws.

You can also check our enforcement actions for breaches of scam laws.

Find out more about our compliance and enforcement role and the penalties for breaking the rules.


Finalised investigations

Finalised investigations


Consumer complaints help us identify and act on issues and trends. We also provide de-identified complaint data to telcos to help them identify and block scam calls.

  • We are seeing some promising reductions in yearly complaints as anti-scam call and SMS rules make an impact.
  • 19% of all telemarketing and spam complaints from January to March 2023 were about scams.
  • The most common complaints (excluding scams) were about retail, the building/maintenance sectors, and those with insufficient information to identify the caller or message sender. Giving us as much information as possible helps us take action on non-compliance.



Note: We have also received 52 complaints about commercial instant messages so far in 2022–23.

Compliance alerts

We informally warn businesses about potential compliance issues raised in complaints where we can. We provide details to the business when the complainant has given us permission. If the issues continue, we may investigate. One alert can relate to several issues or complaints.

Compliance alerts


More information

Find out more about spam and telemarketing rules and what actions you can take, including making a complaint.

You can also learn more about how to spot and protect yourself from phone and SMS scams.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get updates about our actions on telemarketing, spam and scams.


Access the data

Download the data for the charts in this report.

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