The days and times you’re most likely to receive a scam text in Australia

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun29,2024
Key Points
  • More than 109,000 scam texts were sent to Australians in 2023.
  • It remains the most commonly used method by scammers to try and get personal and financial details.
  • Telstra has revealed the days and times you’re most likely to receive a scam message sent to your phone.
SMS messages are scammers are using to target Australians.
In 2023, more than 109,000 text messages were found to be misleading, a 37 per cent increase on the year before, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
About $26.9 million was reportedly lost by Australians in 2023 as a result of scam texts.

Telecommunications company Telstra says scammers are increasingly targeting Australians when their guard is down and they’re more likely to be susceptible to a fraudulent text.

How to spot a fake text

Scam messages sent to your phone usually come with a link at the bottom, instructing unsuspecting victims to head to an online address and hand over bank details or other personal information.
They usually impersonate big brands, contain unverified links, ask for financial details or demand immediate action from the recipient.

Messages will often warn you of an unpaid fine that is to expire, threatening penalties if you don’t pay it off. They can also mimic the style of your bank or government institutions — and may even appear in a thread of genuine messages from those organisations.

When are scam texts most likely to be sent?

Telstra’s data has identified when scam messages — such as ones instructing you to pay a fine — are most likely to be sent.
According to the company, people are most likely to be targeted on Friday and Saturday — the telco says 11 per cent more scam attempts are made on those days than any other.
And the hours between 1am and 4am are prime time for scammers. Darren Pauli, a cyber security expert from Telstra, says scam messages are purposely sent at those times.

“SMS scammers are persistent and target us when we’re off guard. This means that they’re targeting us in the early morning and on the weekend,” Pauli said.

A man lying in bed looking at his mobile phone. A light is being emitted from the phone.

Scammers often target people late at night and early in the morning when their guard is down. Source: Getty / RoxiRosita

“They hit us when we are tired and distracted which makes those early morning messages a real risk to those of us having a late night out or who reach for our phone before our coffee.

“So fight the urge to respond before you’re switched on. And if you get any unexpected messages that you’re a little bit [suspicious about], report it.”
Suranga Seneviratne, a senior lecturer at the School of Computer Science of the University of Sydney, says it’s not unusual to see more of these attempts at specific periods throughout the year.

“Especially during this time of year, and the end of the year, you will see an increase of these text messages, mainly because it’s the tax time or it’s the holiday season.”

Scammers using slang to try and dupe Australians

Telstra says there’s another worrying trend on the rise: scammers using to draft messages that use Australian slang terms such as “true blue” or “oi mate” to sound more personable.
Tyler McGee, an expert from cybersecurity company McAfee, says the new technology is giving scammers more options in how they approach potential victims.

“It enables them to change their approach quite quickly, so today it could be a loyalty program, tomorrow it could be a bank, the day after it could be the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), the day after that it could be Medibank.”

New communications laws introduced to parliament

This week, new laws were introduced to parliament that would allow the Australian Communications and Media Authority to set up an SMS sender ID register, which would more readily distinguish scammers from recognised businesses.
Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones says they want to successfully block the messages from reaching the devices of unsuspecting citizens.
Jones says the register won’t be able to block all spamming attempts, but will filter through a large amount of them.

“We are filtering billions of calls and SMS messages now, when the register is in place we’ll be filtering billions and billions more.

A woman's hand using a mobile phone.

SMS messages remain the most commonly reported type of scam. Source: Getty / Karl Tapales

“It’ll ensure that people can’t fraudulently pretend to be a bank or a financial institution because the register will be filtering out all the phoney SMS messages.

“It won’t mean that you won’t get a fake message on your phone but it means that we’ll be filtering out billions and billions more of them.”

For now, the message from cybersafety experts is to dial up the caution and scepticism to avoid falling victim to the threat.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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