Keep snitching on scammers: how our new 7226 reporting number is fighting off SMS and MMS Scams
For starters, while we’re receiving a large amount of reported messages, many aren’t usable. Some, like legitimate marketing texts and unknown numbers, are sent to us in error. Others are legitimate scam message reports we can’t action because they have been sent as a screenshot rather than as a forwarded text.
As scammers become more sophisticated, the speed in which scams are reported is also more important than ever. Most specific SMS scam messages spread over just a few hours or days, so the faster you report scams to us, the more devices we can stop it from reaching.
The new reporting tool works by customers forwarding SMS and MMS scams to 7226 (SCAM) to help our systems better learn what scams are floating around to stop them reaching more people.
This has been available to customers for a little over three months, with thousands of reports helping to prevent scams from reaching and potentially harming our customers.
While our systems and filters already catch a huge number of scams every day, they’re not bullet proof and 7226 reporting has become a great help in stopping brand new scams as well as edge cases we may have missed.
Through this 7226 reporting, we’ve so far seen around 50,000 messages reported to us. However, while this number is an impressive total, there are still many ways we can improve it.
What to avoid when reporting a scam message to Telstra
1. Don’t report scam messages too late. As scams can change by the hour, the longer it takes for us to be aware of it, the less chance we have to stop it being circulated to others.
2. Make sure to forward the actual message, not just a screenshot. Our systems read the text in those messages and have a much harder time working it out through an image.
3. Only send us scams and not just unwanted messages. While marketing sales messages might be annoying – they're not what 7226 is built to stop and delays actual scams from being filtered. Your best bet to stop unwanted messages is to just unsubscribe or block these numbers on your phone.
How to report a scam message to Telstra
It really is as simple as forwarding a suspected scam SMS or MMS message to us at “7226”. Forwarding messages is new to many of us so follow these steps to learn how to do it. Depending on whether you’re using an iPhone or Android device, this method could be a little different.
If you are using an iPhone:
Touch and hold the message bubble you want to forward (be careful to not click on any links in the message), then tap More.
Select additional text messages, if desired.
Tap Forward and enter 7226.
If you have an Android device using the default Messages app:
Tap and hold on to the message – don’t click on any links in the message.
Tap on the three-dot menu button and hit Forward.
Select or type 7226 and hit Send SMS.
It’s as easy as that. One thing to note is that you won’t receive a response once you report the message, but rest assured knowing we have received your report, which will help in preventing the same scam from potentially affecting others.
What to look for in a scam SMS and MMS
Telstra observes many of the most common SMS and MMS scams circulating. While SMS and email scams often bear typos and blatant demands for personal information and payments that can seem more obvious, others may be well written and avoid these kind of hallmark identifiers.
Scammers these days are also getting more sophisticated, so while a couple of years ago we might have seen the same scam spread with the same message for weeks at a time, these days scam techniques can change by the minute.
So, the best defence against scams therefore is to remain sceptical of all unexpected communication regardless of the purported sender.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell an illegitimate message from a real one, but here are a few pointers that can help:
Unexpected SMS messages asking for your personal details, advertising promotional material, or asking you to click a link.
Unless you’re expecting contact from overseas, look out for numbers that start with an international code other than +61 (Australia’s country code).
SMS promising unexpected prizes that require you to send money to claim them.
SMS that encourages you to tap a link, which may then ask you to install software or an application on your mobile phone or tablet. Just like computers, malicious software can put your phone and personal information at risk.
And of course, if you are in doubt, call the sender’s official number and check to see if it is real or a scam.
For more information on scams and how to protect yourself online head to Telstra.com and search cyber security.