Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

Scam losses ease as Westpac unveils new security features

07:30am June 13 2024

Screenshot image of the Westpac Verify feature in the banking app. (Supplied)

Enhanced security features on Westpac’s banking app and online banking are helping to reduce scam losses, as the bank unveils further measures to protect consumers and small business customers. 

Scam losses were down by almost a third in the first half of FY24 compared with the same period a year earlier, with the bank saving customers over $120 million in potential scam losses, according to internal data. 

“Our latest customer scam data reveals losses have come down, but we know scammers are still wreaking havoc and having a devastating impact on people’s lives,” said Ben Young, Westpac’s Head of Fraud Prevention. 

The Westpac Verify feature will alert customers to a potential account name mismatch when they’re adding a new payee using a BSB and account number. It will also warn customers when Westpac has not made a payment to this account before. The risk indicator will prompt customers to review payee details, helping to stop scams and mistaken payments. 

“Scammers are always finding new ways to target unsuspecting Australians, so it’s important we’re continuing to make it harder for them to operate here in Australia,” Young said.

“Westpac Verify will help individuals and small businesses identify scams before they’ve made a payment, which could save them from losing significant amounts of money. The new capability helps to shut down scams including investment and fake invoice scams, which rely on the victim not realising they’re paying a scammer instead of their intended recipient.”

Scams which entice their targets with investment opportunities are the biggest source of customer scam losses, according to Westpac data compiled in April, while business email compromise and romance scams also continue to catch people out.  

For more information on how to spot an investment scam, check out Ben Young’s Scam Spot video: SCAM SPOT: High yield investments or fool’s gold?

To further support businesses, Westpac is also extending its SaferPay capability to small business customers. Westpac SaferPay alerts customers to potential scams by asking a series of questions which are presented for new payments detected to have high scam risk. If customer responses suggest the payment is highly likely to be a scam, Westpac will not allow the payment to be processed. 

Westpac SaferPay has been in operation for consumer payments since March this year and has prevented customers from making approximately $1 million in potential scam payments.

Westpac will also now require customers to enter a description for payments to other bank accounts made via the mobile app, to help identify and block potential scams. 

“The more information we know about a payment, the more our fraud systems can find the likely scams among the millions of genuine payments, and help to protect customers’ funds,” Young said.

Other detection and prevention measures introduced by the bank include cryptocurrency blocks on payments to certain digital currency exchanges that have been identified as high risk. Westpac has also added 94,000 phone numbers to a “Do Not Originate” list to prevent scammers from impersonating the bank’s phone numbers. 

Protection tips for customers

• Westpac will never ask you to transfer money to another bank account to keep your money ‘safe’.

• Westpac will never set up a bank account on your behalf and under your name with a different bank.

• Westpac will always display the name of the recipient bank when the BSB number is entered for a new payee in online and mobile banking.

• Westpac will never ask you to share payment authentication codes to make a purchase on your behalf.

• Customers should ensure their contact information is up to date in online and mobile banking to receive important updates from Westpac.

James Thornhill was appointed as editor of Westpac Wire in May 2022. Prior to joining the bank, he was a business and financial journalist with more than two decades of experience with international newswires. Most recently, he was a resources correspondent for Bloomberg, covering the mining and energy sectors, and previously reported on a broad range of topics from economics and politics to currency and bond markets. Originally from the UK, he’s had stints working in London, New York and Singapore, but is now happily settled in Sydney.

Related articles

SCAM SPOT: How scammers are exploiting puppy love

By Ben Young
Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Insights

SCAM SPOT: What’s trending?

By Ben Young
Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Insights

SCAM SPOT: Everyday tasks are fertile ground for scammers

By Ben Young
Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Insights

Browse topics