We’ve blocked over 225 million scam text messages since April

Earlier this year we announced our SMS scam blocking feature. Since then, we have continued to block millions of scam messages, with a staggering 225 million blocked since April this year. That’s around 775 malicious texts blocked every minute.
Narelle Devine · 29 December 2022 · 3 minute read
A man looking at his smartphone at night on the street

Earlier this year we announced our SMS scam blocking feature. Since then, we have continued to block millions of scam messages, with a staggering 225 million blocked since April this year. That’s around 775 malicious texts blocked every minute.


Statistics on how many scams Telstra has blocked

Scam messages blocked have included lures to install malware on your device, invitations to hand over your personal details to scammers, and impersonation scams requesting financial data. Each one of these 225 million blocked scams reduces the chance of Australians falling victim to a scammer.

It’s also a reminder that scammers are persistent and target just about everyone with a mobile number when it comes to their campaigns – especially as we enjoy our Christmas and New Year breaks.

Just like many of us look forward to the holidays, so do scammers. With loads of new gadgets needing to be set up online at the moment, more toll roads travelled for holidays and a huge amount of online shopping deliveries – these all provide more opportunities for scammers to seize on.

What scams does Telstra block?

When we first rolled out our scam blocking tech in April, the nation was under siege from the FluBot malware .

Flubot has since been shut down, but as soon as one criminal scam enterprise closes, another takes its place. Such is the nature of scams.

Other scams we’ve caught in the fence include impersonation scams designed to trick you into providing personal information or even your financial data (like your credit card numbers) to a fraudulent website. Similarly, we’re seeing an increasing number of bank scams, fake toll notice scams, and fake job offer scams come through our network.

With increased postal delivery notifications, road toll notifications and new gadget cloud account creations over the holiday period, we also expect an increase of scam SMS attempts.

Often these scams will pretend to be a legitimate postal notification or toll notice and ask you to provide payment details to have your package delivered or toll account covered.

If a suspicious text message makes it through to your phone, including any that appear to be from a company you might be expecting contact from, always verify its legitimacy before clicking through, and especially before making any payments.

How SMS blocking technology works

The capability under the bonnet is complex and evolving – it has to be to continue to help outsmart scammers – but in simple terms, we’re applying knowledge of what scam text messages look like to block them at the network level.

If an SMS message looks suspicious, we’ll block it before it reaches you. Automatic machine scanning picks out suspicious content such as malicious links and combines this with other patterns and characteristics.

Keeping you safe with cleaner pipes

Our SMS blocking system is just one way we try to protect you from scams – with hundreds of millions of scam calls and emails across Bigpond email accounts also blocked by our systems over 2022.

For customers – the good news is that there is no need for you to do anything to activate any of the protections under our Cleaner Pipes program. They’re automatically turned on across our network – and we won’t call you or send you an SMS or email asking you to click a link to access them.

You can learn more about how to spot and protect yourself from scams on T.com or at Scamwatch.

By Narelle Devine

Chief Information Security Officer, Asia Pacific

Narelle has a diverse background having worked across the military, government and corporate sectors. Narelle began her career in the Royal Australian Navy before joining the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services as Chief Information Security Officer. In June 2020 Narelle joined Telstra as the Chief Information Security Officer Asia Pacific. Narelle is responsible for the company’s cyber security operations, intelligence, risk, governance, compliance, development and engagement. Narelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Information Systems and English, a Master of Science in Information Technology and a Master of Systems Engineering. In addition to her love of cyber operations she is passionate about workplace culture, diversity, training and recruitment and is a current member of the RSAC Advisory Board and the AISA Executive Advisory Board.