Telstra has introduced a brand-new SMS scam filter to stop annoying and malicious text messages before they reach your phone.
The telecoms provider says the handy new feature has automatically been turned on for millions of Australians using mobile devices connected to the Telstra and Belong networks.
Watch Telstra CEO Andy Penn explain how the feature works above
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“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,” the company said in a statement.
“We know the number of scam text messages on our network is on the rise – in 2021 we had more than 11,000 reports of malicious texts to Android devices compared with 50 reports in 2020.
“That’s why we’ve turned on a brand-new feature to find and block SMS scam messages with suspicious links as they travel across our network and stop many of them before they reach your mobile device.”
The feature works by scanning messages to identify those containing 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.
“If an SMS message looks suspicious, we’ll block it before it reaches you.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last year noted that phones were the most common way for scammers to target victims and also the most successful in terms of financial loss.
ScamWatch estimated Australians last year lost $63.6 million from phone-based scams.
Will Telstra read my texts?
Speaking to Sunrise, Telstra CEO Andy Penn acknowledged that some users may have privacy concerns.
He said most texts will automatically be scanned, however a “specialist” could look at certain messages that have been flagged as suspicious.
“Machines are looking out for clues as to whether SMS are suspicious or not,” he explained on Thursday.
“If we have to have something looked at, everything is anonymised, we don’t know whose it is or where it’s come from or where it’s going to.”
While the feature has been automatically turned on, Telstra and Belong customers can turn it off by sending an SMS to 0438 214 682 with the words FILTER OFF.
It can be turned back on by sending a message to 0438 214 682 saying FILTER ON.
“Like anything in life, it’s not 100 per cent guaranteed. We reckon we can take down 100 million messages a month, but people should still be wary when they receive something that looks a little bit suspicious,” Penn added.