ACCC gets $58m boost to set up National Anti-Scam Centre

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has welcomed $58 million in Federal Government funding to complete the setup of the National Anti-Scam Centre (NASC) over the next two years.

2023-23 Budget papers revealed that the ACCC-led NASC will work closely during its first year of operation with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to help deliver its scam website takedown service, and will support the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in combatting telecommunications scams.

ACCC deputy chair, Catriona Lowe, said the funding would also be used to build the technology needed to support high-frequency data sharing with a range of agencies, law enforcement and the private sector, in an effort to make Australian organisations a more difficult target for future scammers.

“The centre will bring together the expertise and resources to disrupt scammers making contact with Australians, raise consumer awareness about how to avoid scams, and link scam victims to services where they have lost money or had their identity compromised,” Lowe added.

The NASC will also commence work on the first ‘fusion cell’, which coordinates efforts across government and the private sector to target specific scam activity.

The ACCC also welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to introduce an SMS Sender ID register, similar to that implemented in Singapore, which would assist in disrupting impersonation scams and help consumers determine whether a text message using a sender ID is from a trusted source.

Of $58 million in funding allocated under the budget, $44 million will enable NASC to:

  • Receive a report of a scam from any institution (private or government) and centralise this intelligence
  • Distribute data to those who need it most – such as banks to freeze an account, telcos to block a call, digital platforms to take down a website or account
  • Analyse and act on the trends sourced from this data to disrupt scams and educate Australians.

The remaining $14 million of funding will be used to: resource the NASC to deliver fusion cells; provide education and communications activities in collaboration with the private sector and support ongoing data analysis; intelligence gathering, and disruption.