The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) introduced rules requiring operators to detect, trace and block scam calls, a problem it stated had cost consumers AUD35.6 million ($26.2 million) so far in 2020.

It stated the Reducing Spam Calls Code was developed alongside operators and the Communications Alliance. It requires operators to “detect, trace and block spam calls” alongside offering “information to assist their customers” in managing and reporting incidents.

Other stipulations include sharing information about scam calls with other operators and report them to authorities.

ACMA said the code builds on recent scam reduction and awareness activities including the introduction of measures to fight mobile number fraud earlier this year and the release of consumer resources.

Operators said they blocked more than 30 million scam calls over the last 12 months during trials of methods to combat the problem.

“The code is a unique and ground-breaking contribution to global regulatory efforts to prevent the harms caused by scammers”, Fiona Cameron, chair of the ACMA’s Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce, said. “It is an holistic, end-to-end framework for effective scam reduction activity”.

Operators face penalties of up to AUD250,000 for failure to comply with the new code.