SMS Scam Filter

ALDImobile has access to a new tool called the SMS Scam Filter that is designed to find and block malicious SMS with suspicious links or telephone numbers, stopping them before they reach your mobile phone. This service launched on April 7, 2022.

How does it work?

The SMS Scam Filter finds suspicious patterns and characteristics in messages travelling through the network. To do so it analyses metrics such as time, sender, number of messages sent, and recipient. When malicious SMS are identified, it will and block them until they can be confirmed as malicious. Once confirmed the filter will block further malicious messages with the same or similar criteria. If a suspicious message is found not to be malicious they will be released after a short delay and delivered as normal.

The capability does not offer a fool-proof solution to scams; criminals evolve and find new methods to attempt to scam Australians. For example, if they guess we have blocked a message that has a suspicious link, they will try to change the characteristics of the SMS to avoid being blocked.

You should continue to be alert to the possibility that when you receive an unexpected message, that it may not be genuine and not click on links.

Will it block a message that I wanted to receive?

We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy of the scam filter so there is a very small chance that a legitimate message will not be delivered.

We have not received any substantiated complaints about legitimate messages being blocked since the program began, however, if you are sending legitimate messages that you have evidence of not being delivered please let us know.

Could high-volume messages be mistaken for scams?

Legitimate commercial messaging sources are excluded from blocking. This means that SMS sent by banks and other businesses, government departments, Emergency Alerts, and applications like Voicemail are not scanned and will not be blocked.

Did we build it ourselves or use an off the shelf product?

The product used for this technology is managed by our network partner, Telstra.

Do I have to do anything to have this feature added to my device?

No, we have turned it on across our mobile network and there is no need to do anything to receive the benefits of blocking malicious SMS. We won’t send you an email or text to click on a link to opt in or out – if you receive one of these it will be a scam so do not click on the link.

How will the opt out feature work?

When activated, we expect the SMS scam filter to block millions of malicious SMS messages per day. Most customers will enjoy the benefit and not wish to opt out. At launch, all ALDImobile customers will have access to this technology.

  • To opt-out, send an SMS to 0438214682 with the words FILTER OFF.
  • To opt back in, send an SMS to 0438214682 with the words FILTER ON.

How will I know if the opt-out or opt-in has worked properly?

When you send an SMS to 0438214682 you will receive an automated response as follows:

Text message from SMS Scam Filter to respond to FILTER ON

The SMS Scam Filter is now activated for your mobile service. This technology is designed to reduce the number of SMS Scam messages delivered to your mobile service.

You can opt out of this service by texting FILTER OFF to 0438214682.

Text message from SMS Scam Filter to respond to FILTER OFF

The SMS Scam Filter is now OFF for this service. To turn on, text FILTER ON to 0438214682.

Text to respond to FILTER STATUS (whichever is appropriate)

The SMS Scam Filter is now OFF for this service. To turn on, text FILTER ON to 0438214682.

The SMS Scam Filter is now ON for this mobile service. This technology is designed to reduce the number of SMS Scam messages delivered to your mobile service. You can opt out of this service by texting FILTER OFF to 0438214682.

Text to respond to any other input

Sorry, the command you sent was unrecognised. Please send a message that contains one of the following commands:

  • FILTER ON - opt in for the Scam Filter.
  • FILTER OFF - opt out of the Scam Filter.
  • FILTER STATUS - display current applied status of the Scam Filter.

It won’t stop all scam messages, correct? If so, how can I report scams that slip through?

To be clear, the scam filter is not able to block all unsolicited or unwanted commercial messages ("spam"). Legitimate businesses are obliged to let you stop their marketing, typically by replying STOP.

The scam filter is designed to block malicious SMS aiming to trick you into calling the scammers or clicking on a malicious link. The scam filtering platform has a demonstrated history of accurately blocking scam messages for other mobile operators.

Messages will only be blocked if verified to be part of a scam campaign, against agreed criteria and with support from cyber and scam experts.

What human intervention is used, or is it all AI?

The technology requires some degree of manual review by people. A small Telstra technical team in Australia reviews a sample of suspected scam messages including the hyperlink. The recipient data is removed to protect privacy before the suspicious content is manually reviewed. If the team identifies a message as scam, they will fine tune the technology to block future messages with the same criteria or near matches unless the recipient has opted out. This manual confirmation helps reduce the risk that legitimate messages are blocked.

The platform is also set up so it cannot be used for any other purpose. It is secured to the same high standard as the rest of our network, with access restricted and logged.

Can the scam filter system be applied to other messaging apps like WhatsApp, or is it just SMS?

The SMS scam filter can only be applied to SMS on services on the Telstra mobile network. It will not be applied for "over the top" messaging applications like iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or end-to-end encrypted services.

If you receive a scam using one of those applications, you should report it to the operator of the service.

Will you be blocking unsolicited political messages?

Politicians, charities, and religious organisations are some of the organisations and entities that have exemptions to the Spam Act. They will not be blocked under this platform / the SMS scam filter. 

If things aren’t working out:

If you do not want to be involved at any time with this technology, that's okay. Just send a text message with the words “FILTER OFF” to 0438214682 to opt- out of the filter setting.

Will my SMS and related metadata stay in Australia?

Yes. Your communications including SMS and attached metadata will remain located in Australia on Telstra infrastructure.

Why should I trust ALDImobile?

ALDImobile’s network partner, Telstra Wholesale has a long history of upholding the privacy and security of its customers and a demonstrated track record of transparency in cyber security matters.

The SMS scam filter technology is intended to improve customer experience, by implementing robust cyber security measures that aim to reduce the number of scams people are exposed to.

Why did we need to wait for the government to legislate/make changes?

Identifying and blocking malicious SMS on the network is permitted. Our network partner has undertaken a coordinated response with Government, who made new regulations to give industry more clarity and confidence and the authority to detect and block malicious SMS scams, to improve the cyber resilience of networks.

Is any of the data reported to the Government or regulatory bodies, if so what and to who?

Our network partner regularly shares information on the latest scam techniques and campaigns to support government in their efforts to combat scams and cybercrime. Any information we share for this purpose is anonymised and aggregated e.g., sample of scam SMS, or volumes of suspected scam SMS messages observed on our network. No customer information is provided.

Are all telecommunications providers using the same product? If not why not?

The product used for identifying and blocking malicious SMS is available commercially, and there are other similar products in market. We are focused on delivering this protection for customers using our network, and the more providers that take a similar approach, the better the outcome for the security and resilience of Australia.

Are any overseas carriers undertaking the same work? Who are they and have we consulted on this program?

Overseas carriers are using similar programs with scam and fraud detection capabilities. We are aware of carriers in Spain (Telefonica) and the UK (BT and Vodafone) who use such technology to great effect.