Westpac joins Australian banks to combat scams
24 November 2023
Westpac has joined forces with Australian banks to implement an industry-first Scam-Safe Accord which will provide better protection for customers in the fight against scams.
An initiative led through the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) the accord outlines six key initiatives all Australian banks have agreed to implement to improve scam protections across the sector. This includes investing in a new confirmation of payee system to be rolled-out across all the banks.
Westpac CEO and ABA Chair Peter King will join Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones, ABA CEO Anna Bligh, COBA CEO Michael Lawrence and COBA Chair Elizabeth Crouch at Westpac’s offices this morning to launch the initiative and says this is a significant step forward in making Australia a hard target for scammers.
“Falling victim to a scam can have devastating and life-changing consequences. Today we are sending a clear message to these criminals that they have no business being in Australia and we are doing more to stop them from ripping off our customers,” Mr King said.
“This will be one of the biggest technical uplifts for Australian banking in recent times and means Australians with bank accounts will be significantly more protected from scams.”
The six key measures outlined in the Scam-Safe Accord include:
- An industry-wide confirmation of payee solution
- Biometric checks to prevent misuse of bank accounts
- Warnings and payment delays to alert customers to potential scam payments
- A major expansion of intelligence sharing across the sector
- Limiting payments to high-risk channels
- Implementing an Anti-Scams Strategy
Westpac has already implemented or started rolling out protections for all six initiatives with additional measures coming in the following months. This will include becoming the first Australian bank to introduce real-time payment prompts, presenting customers with a series of dynamic questions for payments detected to be a higher scam risk, as well as enhanced account name checking capabilities through Westpac Verify*.
“Westpac has continued to invest in uplifting its scam detection and prevention measures which has stopped customers losing $235 million in the last year and sees us now detecting over 60 per cent of all cases,” Mr King added.
“This has included rolling out blocks for some digital currency exchanges with high scam potential and launching our Westpac Verify account name checking capability, alerting customers to potential account name mismatches when transferring money to a new payee.
“While we’ve seen the considerable impact these measures have had in preventing losses, we know we cannot do it alone. The action plan will help level the playing field and ensure customers are afforded the same protections no matter who they choose to bank with.
“But banks are still only one link in the chain. We now also need to think about how we apply this same level of protection to every mobile phone, every web browser and every social media page in the country to be as effective as possible and ensure Australia is a hard target for scammers.”
More information about the Scam-Safe Accord is available here.
*About the new payment prompts:
Customers will be presented with a series of dynamic questions in instances where a payment is considered higher risk of being a scam. The prompts will be activated if Westpac’s fraud systems detect a potential scam payment details are entered into their online or mobile banking. If Westpac still considers the payment is highly likely to be a scam risk based on the information provided, the payment will not be allowed to be processed.
*About the enhanced Westpac Verify capability:
The new Westpac Verify capability will alert customers to potential scams through risk indicators when new payee details are entered into their online or mobile banking. This includes when there is a potential account name mismatch to a new BSB and account number or when money is being sent to an account a Westpac customer has never transacted with before. Scam risk indicators will prompt customers to check payment details and decide if they’d like to proceed with a transfer.