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Westpac trials new cryptocurrency blocks to prevent scam losses

18 May 2023

Westpac has begun trialling new customer protections for some cryptocurrency payments to reduce scam losses.


The latest Westpac data shows investment scams account for approximately half of all scam losses and a third of all scam payments are transferred directly to a cryptocurrency exchange.


Westpac Group Executive of Customer Services and Technology, Scott Collary, estimates the new security measures could save customers millions of dollars.


“Digital exchanges have a legitimate role to play in the financial ecosystem. But since the rise of digital currency, we’ve noticed that scammers are increasingly using overseas exchanges,” Mr Collary said.


“Often our customers only discover they’ve been scammed after the money has left the country, making recovery extremely difficult.


“The trial of our new security measures will better protect customers from scams. In particular, it will target investment scams, which have a devastating impact on our customers.”


A phased trial of the new protection blocks will be rolled out over the coming weeks.


Currently, Westpac’s scam and fraud teams detect over 60 per cent of attempted scams. We’re continually upgrading security to better protect customers.


The new measures follow other recent scam initiatives, including Westpac Verify which alerts customers if there is a potential account name mismatch for some payments to a new BSB and account number or when money is sent to an account Westpac has never transacted with before.


Investment scam red flags:

  • Fake social media ads. Many investment scams are promoted on social media sites and sometimes include fake celebrity endorsements. Scammers will often ask you to fill out a form registering your interest and will then call you to discuss the opportunity.
  • Fake websites and documents. Scammers may use false prospectuses or investment portals to gain your trust. These may ask you to provide personal details so the scammer can contact you to discuss the fake offer.
  • They know personal information. They have often already fraudulently obtained personal details like your name, ending digits on your credit card or approximate location, which makes them appear legitimate.
  • They want you to action something. They will often instruct you to complete an action while on the phone to them – like updating your banking details, increasing your daily payment limit, downloading an app or sending money to a 'new' account.
  • They use spoofing software. To convince you the call is genuine, they may use software to send you a fake SMS that appears to be from the business they say they're calling you from while on the phone with you.


Westpac scam prevention measures:

  • Westpac Verify. Customers are alerted to a potential account name mismatch for first-time transfers to a new payee, or where money is being sent to an account Westpac has never transacted with before, for payments made via the New Payments Platform (NPP). Payments are paused for four hours so customers have an opportunity to check if payment details are correct. Over $250,000 saved for customers since March 2023.
  • Dynamic CVC. Customers can access a Digital Card in the Westpac app to make purchases safely with a dynamic 3-digit security code that changes daily. Reduces card fraud rates by 80% compared to physical cards.
  • Scam block. Real-time blocking of suspect online merchants, with over $131 million saved for 1.54 million scam cases since January 2022.
  • Stopping spoofing calls. Westpac worked with its telecommunication provider Optus to add 94,000 Westpac numbers to the ‘Do Not Originate’ list, preventing scammers from impersonating the bank’s phone numbers.
  • Sophisticated detection technology. Advanced customer behavioural tool launched in mid-2022 to help combat remote access scams, saving over $13 million for customers to date.
  • Dedicated Financial Crime Hub. Recently opened in Parramatta Square bringing over 500 scam, fraud & financial crime specialists together.

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