Registering Your Sender ID

By:  Tim Hunt - CTO/Co-founder

With Australians having been victimized by SMS scams to the tune of $6.5 Million, 188% more than 2021, Australia’s decided its time for governing bodies and mobile operators to put their foot down, and insist we know the identity of the person/company on the other side of the SMS.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) registered some new rules back in July of ‘22 but recently they’ve upped the ante with a new registry planned to track Sender IDs (aka, alphanumeric ID, alpha headers, etc.) giving transparency to the bad seeds and legitimacy to the good ones. Spoofing as other companies to try to scam you will hopefully be a thing of the past, well, at least reduced (a scammer’s gonna scam, am I right?).

With that said, there’s going to be a flurry of information around the topic, but Red Oxygen is here to help clarify what it all means so you don’t have to worry about it.

But first, what is a Sender ID?

A sender ID is the name or number that appears as the ‘From’ when an SMS is received, and does just that, identifies the sender with a unique id code/number. It could be a 10-digit number or a 5- or 6-digit number, but what we’re here to talk about today are alphanumeric sender IDs, which is a string of letters and numbers. Often the alphanumeric IDs will be used to show the company name when they communicate via text with you.  

A sender ID can consist of:

  • Maximum of 11 characters
  • Allowed: Alpha (Aa-Zz), Numerals (0-9), spaces
  • No special characters
  • Some countries/carriers don’t allow spaces
  • If the sender ID is NUMERALS only, it MUST be a number the sender owns

When you know who it’s from, you’ll more likely trust the information, right? If only it was that easy…

Recently carriers and government agencies are cracking down on all of these due to spammers and scammers (they tend to ruin all of the good things). And, at the moment the alphanumeric sender IDs are the hot topic of conversation.

What’s the deal with alphanumeric sender IDs?

Glad you asked. These numbers have been historically easy to use to deceive the recipient, as some SMS software providers have allowed their customers to change their sender ID whenever they wanted to and to whatever they want. A scammer could change theirs to read as if they are sending messages from a reputable business, the government and even your mother, when in fact they are setting you up for a scam.

So, with newer (as in Australia’s case) regulations and plans for a central registration system, any company looking to use an alphanumeric sender ID will need to prove who they are, how the number will be used and what types of messages they will be sending. With this, carriers will be able to monitor who’s sending what with the intent to block malicious SMS from getting to recipients.

Electric company scam message/text on phone screen

In a lot of ways, alpha headers are great; there’s a far better open rate and brand recognition than just a 10-digit number or a short code. On the flip side, it’s only one-way communication (replies don’t deliver to anyone) and they’re not supported in a lot of countries, including the US and Canada.

And, a lot of SMS gateways and providers have allowed customers to change their sender ID when they want and to what they want which is how we got to this point.

What is Australia doing to avert scams?

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) a branch of the Australian government has famously been very diligent when fighting for and protecting Australians and have recently registered new rules making telcos more responsible for what is sent over their networks.

Scam text message on cell phone screen that looks like it's coming from your Mum.

With this requirement set in place and knowing ACMA’s plans for the central Sender ID register, the telcos have taken it upon themselves to start the registration process, to keep their legit customers from being blocked as soon as the central registry is implemented.

Some providers are even planning on restricting services or at least use of their sender ID if registration information is not provided to them in the next few months…they’re getting serious about this, ya’ll.

What’s required for registration?

All of the telcos are requiring slightly different specifics, but in general it’s basic information about who you are and what you’re sending.

Information about your business including:

  • ABN # and certificate
  • Company address and authorized administrator information
  • Trademark registration in some cases

Information about the messages being sent using the Sender ID:

  • Type of message
  • How the chosen ID relates to your business (e.g., ‘it’s the name of my business’)
  • Message samples

Are there any fees associated with registration?

As far as we know, there won’t be a cost to register with ACMA, we certainly know that there’s not a cost to register with Red Oxygen, and we won’t charge to supply the information to ACMA to ensure you and Red Oxygen stay compliant.

However there is a cost to have and use an alphanumeric sender ID, but it varies by provider and country legislation. Any fees required by individual countries Red Oxygen will pass through to you without a mark-up, you can see our fees on the pricing page.

How is Red Oxygen handling it?

We’re proud to say that Red Oxygen has always had our thumb on the sender ID option, in our efforts to prevent our customers from sending spam or scams, we’ve always required customers to contact us if/when they want to use a sender ID. So nothing’s changed there.

But, we are now requiring the customers to supply registration details so we can, with the permission of the customer, share the information with our telco partners and ACMA. 

If you have one of these Sender IDs, you’ll hear from us soon, as we’re diligently gathering the information to be prepared for inquiries from our partners and the government.

If you’re planning on acquiring an alphanumeric sender ID, you’ll have to register before it will be provided to you.Proper use example of a Sender ID message on cell phone screen.

Either way, we’ll be right by your side to make sure you’re compliant so you can confidently send messages as ‘SuperEgg’ from your local farming co-op, without getting the crack down. (See what I did there?)

Contact Sales or Support if you’re interested in a sender ID and we’ll walk you through the process.


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