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Westpac rolls out real-time alerts to help protect customers from scams and fraud

10 August 2020

With a spike in scams targeting Australians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Westpac is taking further steps to protect its customers through implementing new scam-detection technology across its branch network.


The new technology will send Westpac branch employees real-time alerts as payments are being processed, so that suspicious transactions can be identified and investigated on-the-spot.


Westpac’s Chief Customer Engagement Officer, Ross Miller, said the move will help further safeguard customers from losing funds to scams and fraud.


“Scams and fraud continue to be a real issue in the community, with our research showing the average person loses $12,000 when scammed1. But the financial and emotional toll can be much higher.


“While we can’t stop every loss, this is another layer in the net to help catch high risk transactions by using the latest real-time technology to analyse the transaction and detect potential scams or fraudulent activity.


“We’re also using people power to bolster this technology, including further training for our frontline bankers to help with monitoring transactions and supporting customers if there is cause for concern.


“These changes will further enhance Westpac’s scam and fraud detection capabilities across all our banking channels; whether using our online and mobile banking services, making online purchases, or transacting in our branches.”


The technology works by providing real-time analysis through Westpac’s dedicated fraud team to indicate if the transaction is at high risk of being a scam or fraud. If a transaction is suspected fraudulent, the system will prompt a series of questions to help the banker determine whether to pause or decline the payment.


Westpac has also released new research revealing more than four in ten (43%) Australians don’t know the difference between a scam or fraud – an education gap that has increased by 21 per cent since 20192. Most commonly, Australians are unable to identify romance scams (22%) or suspicious email phishing scams (14%).


Over three quarters (77%) of Australians are also concerned about scammers targeting friends and family members, and 76 per cent agree they could do more to better educate themselves against scams.


Westpac data shows that some the most common scams include being tricked into sharing personal details through phone calls, texts or emails from scammers pretending to be a familiar business or government body, as well as dating or romance scams where customers are convinced into sending money or gifts to a prospective companion.


“While we’re taking every step that we can to protect our customers against scammers, Australians must remain vigilant and be mindful of offers that seem suspicious or too good to be true,” Mr Miller said.


“With lots of people spending time in isolation and applying for government support through initiatives like JobKeeper, all against the backdrop of tax time, it’s never been more important to be educated against those looking to take advantage.


“Not only for customers to protect themselves, but also those around them who might be more vulnerable like older family members.


“While it can feel embarrassing to talk about, remember you are not alone. The latest ACCC Targeting Scams Report found Australians reported more than 353,000 scams last year with a loss of over $634 million,” added Mr Miller.   


In addition to enhanced training across its branch network, over the past 12 months Westpac has also created a full-time Scam Assist team to support scam detection and prevention for customers.


Westpac also recently released a Financial Abuse Support Guide to help educate Australians about protecting those who might be more vulnerable to fraud or scam-related activity.


More information about the latest scams and how to avoid them is available at www.westpac.com.au/scams. Westpac customers can also contact 132 032 to seek assistance with a scam or to report suspicious activity.

Glossary for consumers

  • Fraud: Unauthorised transactions on your account that have taken place without your knowledge. For example, if someone obtains your credit card details unbeknownst to you and makes a transaction on your card without you knowing.
  • Scams: Transactions on your account that you have willingly performed but under false pretences. For example, if you’re tricked into sending money or personal information to a scammer pretending to be a familiar business, like a telco.

Westpac’s top tips for stopping scammers

  • Protect your identity. Never provide your personal information or security details, including passwords or security codes, in response to an email, phone call or SMS, even if it looks legitimate. 
  • Protect your computer and devices. Install security software, turn on automatic updates and scan your computer regularly. It is a good idea to avoid using shared computers or devices as they may have malware that could compromise your online security.
  • Be wary of scam callers. Use caution when receiving a call from someone claiming to be from a reputable organisation and stop to consider what they are asking for. Never give them remote access to your computer. If in doubt, ask for a reference number and call back on a number publicly listed or in the phone book to confirm the call was genuine. 
  • Use caution actioning email requests. You may receive emails that contain links to fake websites or have malicious attachments that target your identity details or harm your device. Also, never change a BSB and account number in response to an email request. Always validate the requested change by calling the sender on a trusted phone number. 
  • Be alert to SMS phishing. Fraudsters can spoof the sender name so they may appear as a trusted contact. These SMSs often use scare tactics and contain links to fake websites to capture your passwords and other sensitive personal information.

 

For further information:

Emalie McPherson

emalie.mcpherson@westpac.com.au

0409 454 858


1
 Westpac State of Scams Report, August 2019

2 43% of Australians couldn’t differentiate fraud and scams in 2020 compared to 36% who couldn’t do so in 2019 (Sources: Westpac State of Scams Report, August 2019 & Westpac Research, July 2020).