Optus teamed with government-backed association Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX) to introduce a new tool designed to combat call and SMS scams, an issue which cost the country’s consumers AUD3 billion ($2 billion) in 2022.

In a statement, MD at AFCX David Pegley identified scams as the cause of huge financial and emotional distress to Australians, with methods used continuing to rise in 2023.

Optus’ partnership with AFCX and its banking members will see the introduction of a new protective measure, dubbed Call Stop, which prevents fraudsters reaching Optus customers by redirecting the calls to identified numbers to an automated message warning them of the scam.

Scam phone numbers that have been reported by banks and their customers are added to the list identified through the Call Stop programme, effective this week.

Andrew Sheridan, VP for regulatory and public affairs at Optus added the company is blocking close to five million calls and 10 million SMS each month. In total, it blocked almost 80 million SMS scams over the last year and 320 million calls since end-2020.

The Australian government has taken major steps to curb call and text scams. In 2021, it updated the telecoms law to make it easier for operators to identify scam numbers.