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Australia’s New Scam-Fighting Framework

In a bid to tackle the rising threat of scams, Australia’s Department of the Treasury has unveiled a consultation paper outlining a comprehensive framework targeting consumer and business scams. The proposal, titled the “Proposed Scams Code Framework,” introduces the concept of sector-specific codes and standards, emphasizing the need for tailored approaches to combat various types of scams.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones and Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland jointly announced the initiative on November 30, marking a significant step in the ongoing efforts to address the escalating issue of scams. The proposed framework seeks to assign clear roles and responsibilities to both government and private entities involved in combating scams.

The consultation paper identifies three primary categories for assigning codes and standards: banks, telecommunications providers, and digital communications platforms. Additionally, it introduces a forward-looking “future sectors” category, targeting emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and related trading platforms.

Australia’s move comes in response to a concerning trend, with consumers and businesses reportedly losing at least $3.1 billion to scams in 2022—a staggering 80% increase from the previous year. Despite previous initiatives by the Australian government, existing measures have proven insufficient, prompting the need for a more targeted and adaptive approach.

The proposed mandatory industry codes aim to delineate the responsibilities of the private sector concerning scam activities. The National Anti-Scam Centre (NASC), led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and other specialized support services, are already collaborating to combat scams in Australia.

The consultation period for the “Proposed Scams Code Framework” will remain open until January 29, 2024. The Treasury encourages stakeholders and the public to provide feedback, fostering a collaborative effort to develop a robust and effective strategy against the growing threat of scams in Australia.

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