CBA and Telstra join forces to protect customers from phone scams

Media Release, 27 March 2023

Proof-of-concept of ‘Scam Indicator’ shows the potential to double the success rate of phone scam detection and prevention for joint customers and mitigate losses of up to $15-20 million per annum[1]

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and Telstra today announced a new pilot to help protect their customers from phone scams.

Scam Indicator, currently in proof-of-concept stage and to be piloted over the next few months, will help protect joint CBA and Telstra customers from phone scams where criminals try and trick people into transferring them large amounts of money.

Early results of simulations suggest the prospect of improvements in the detection and prevention of scams, potentially mitigating customer losses of up to $15-20 million.

The tool is designed to detect certain high-risk scam situations in real time using a Telstra API that CBA will call on as part of its scam detection processes. This enables CBA to check if a customer is on a phone call – the prime indicator that a scam is occurring. This allows CBA the opportunity to try to contact the customer or put in additional checks. To protect the privacy of both parties, CBA is only able to access specific data points relating to scam prevention through the API, and does not have access to any other underlying customer data.

Matt Comyn, Commonwealth Bank CEO said: “CBA and Telstra are committed to helping customers protect themselves from the financial losses and emotional trauma associated with scams.

“We are focused on helping customers stay safe by improving early detection and prevention of scams. We have been working with Telstra to produce a machine-learning scams detection model, the first in a number of exciting initiatives from this partnership.

“We acknowledge that there is more to do given the rising volume and fast changing nature of scams. We’re committed to playing our part to address this national priority alongside leading businesses, government, and the broader community,” said Mr Comyn.

Vicki Brady, Telstra CEO said Telstra had taken an industry lead in protecting its customers from scams and other malicious activity through its Cleaner Pipes program, and the Scam Indicator was another example of how data and AI could be used to deliver positive outcomes for customers.

“I’m often asked by people why Telstra can’t do more to protect against phone scams, and this is an example of us doing just that – working innovatively with CBA to put in place measures that will help stop this criminal activity in its tracks,” Ms Brady said.

“Australians are under constant threat by scammers, who are getting increasingly sophisticated and persistent. Cyber security and addressing the issue of scams is a team effort, and we should be doing all we can to help stem the flow of this criminal activity. Part of this needs to be organisations working together like this to share knowledge and insights and partnering to develop solutions that can help better protect our customers.”

AI is a key part of Telstra’s T25 strategy and is used internally across its customer service function to help improve product recommendations and across networks to help identify potential issues and cyber threats. 

Last year, Telstra launched Quantium Telstra, a new joint venture dedicated to creating AI solutions with the customer at the centre. Quantium Telstra has been instrumental in conceiving, developing and deploying the proof-of-concept for Scam Indicator in close consultation with CBA.

The Scam Indicator is the latest initiative in both organisations’ deep commitment to tackling scams.

Telstra’s ‘Cleaner Pipes’ initiative actively blocks an unprecedented volume of scam and potentially unwanted email, SMS and phone calls with improved spam and scam filters. Since launching, it has blocked close to 230 million SMS messages (based on April 2022 – February 2023) and blocks an average of 10 million scam or potentially unwanted calls every month. The Scam Indicator is being developed as an extension of this capability.

Today’s initiatives build on a suite of recent announcements from CommBank aimed at helping to protect customers from scams, including NameCheck technology for money transfers and new caller verification via the CommBank app, as well as a national campaign to raise awareness and help Australians to take steps to protect themselves from scams.

Following further testing, the Scam Indicator is expected to be made available by CBA to joint CBA and Telstra customers later this year.

For more information on Telstra’s Cleaner Pipes initiative and how Telstra is helping Australians stay safe online, please visit here.   

For more information on CBA’s range of security features and services to help keep customers secure, please visit the CommBank safe hub.

Telstra media contact:

Name: Steve Carey, General Manager Media


CBA media contact:

Name: Danny John, Head of External Communications


Media reference number: 016/2023


[1] Forecast loss prevention only, based on results from simulations on historical data during proof-of-concept phase, which revealed an increase in scam detection and mitigation of fraudulent activity involving Telstra phone calls.