Westpac makes online shopping safer and saves customers millions with new scam blocks
11 April 2022
In a move to stamp-out scam purchases and protect customers, Westpac has announced it has started automatically blocking suspect online transactions from overseas retailers deemed high-risk of being a scam.
When customers make an online card payment and a scam is detected, the transaction will be automatically blocked, and the customer notified via SMS. If a customer believes the payment is legitimate, they can contact Westpac’s dedicated scam assistance team to request the payment proceeds. In over 99 per cent of cases, customers did not proceed with the transaction after getting the scam alert.
Westpac trialled the real-time scam blocks last year with select online stores with dubious marketing claims, focusing on diet pill retailers. During this time, more than 11,000 potential scams were blocked for 4,000 customers, saving more than $1.2 million. Since January 2022, the blocks have been rolled-out to more online merchants, saving customers an additional $6 million, as the bank continues to scale-up its scam and fraud protection mechanisms.
“Online shopping scams are on the rise and we’re seeing more overseas retailers targeting Australians with false advertising for popular products like diet pills, supplements, dating subscriptions and business services,” said Chris de Bruin, Westpac Chief Executive Consumer & Business Banking.
“With our research showing these scams are costing Australians hundreds of millions each year, we’re ramping-up our investment in technologies which will help detect scams and prevent customers getting swindled.
“Over the past two months, we have stopped 69,000 customers losing more than $6 million through our scam blocks with customers saving an average of $87.
“Through expanding this to more merchants, our modelling predicts we will stop an additional 2,000 customers each day losing an estimated $120 million annually to dodgy overseas retailers,” said Mr de Bruin.
Westpac’s scam detection technology analyses transaction patterns, merchant behaviours and attributes, as well as previous reports from other customers, to dynamically add and remove merchants from these high-risk lists. Merchants being blocked are exclusively registered overseas, and most commonly sell diet pills, nutrient supplements, online dating subscriptions, music subscriptions or business support services.
“We want to help put a stop to online scams by blocking retailers who may be misrepresenting what they’re selling or duping Aussies into handing over money for products they’ll never receive,” said Westpac Head of Fraud, Ben Young.
“The technology adds another layer of security for our customers shopping online and intervenes when they are making a purchase with a suspect retailer. The new capability builds on our existing 24/7 fraud detection systems which focus on preventing transactions on stolen or copied cards.
“We encourage customers to remain vigilant when shopping online. If a customer believes they have been the victim of a scam they should call us as soon as possible. We have a specialist team of staff trained to assist customers impacted by scams.
“While scams are getting more sophisticated, so are the banks at detecting them, and we want scammers to know we are watching and taking action to protect our customers,” said Mr Young.
The scam block works for customers using their Westpac credit or debit card to make purchases, including via third party mobile wallet providers.
Information about the latest scams is updated regularly at www.westpac.com.au/scams and customers can contact 132 032 to report a scam or seek assistance.
Tips to stay safe when shopping online:
- Check where a merchant is based and be sure to read the fine print regarding any ongoing billing commitments after the initial purchase.
- Be wary of free trials and diarise follow ups / service cancellations to prevent ongoing unwanted billing.
- Westpac customers may access a Digital Card through their mobile banking app which provides extra security when shopping online through a dynamic 3-digit CVC code that changes every 24 hours.
- If a card is lost or stolen, customers may apply an instant block through Westpac’s online and mobile banking to prevent any unauthorised purchases and have a new card issued.
Available media assets
- Interview grabs with Westpac Head of Fraud Ben Young View | Download
- Overlay of scam alert View | Download
- Image of scam alert SMS View | Download