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SCAM SPOT: What’s trending?

08:30am July 03 2024

Scam losses are easing, but it still pays to be vigilant. 

Customer scam losses in FY24 are tracking around 30 per cent lower than the previous year in a positive sign that the steps the bank is taking to protect customers are paying off.

Still, scammers are innovative and constantly thinking up new ways to catch people out, so it pays to remain vigilant. 

Westpac introduced the Verify feature in June, which alerts customers to a potential account name mismatch when they’re adding a new payee using a BSB and account number. 

The feature is aimed primarily at averting Business Email Compromise scams but is also helpful in avoiding mistaken payments, for example when a customer makes a typographical error when entering a new payee’s details.

The fraud team estimates the new feature is avoiding around 200 errors per day for customers, while also helping to lower BEC scam losses. 

The bank’s SaferPay feature, rolled out in March, is also having a positive impact in reducing scam losses. It asks the customer a series of questions if they are making a payment which the bank’s AI algorithm identifies as high-risk. Our latest estimate is that SaferPay has averted potential scam losses amounting to over $1 million. 

As financial institutions step up their controls against crypto-based investment scams, we’re increasingly seeing scammers switch their focus back to non-crypto options. Those include fake term deposits and impersonating bank brands

One strategy is for the scammer to cold call a target saying that they are from a bank’s security team and have discovered that the target’s bank details have been compromised. The aim is to persuade the individual to divulge their private details in order to restore security. Unfortunately, doing so often has the opposite effect. 

The use of newly onboarded domestic business bank accounts for scams is also on the rise. The strategy involves the registration of a fake business with ASIC. 

And at a time when many customers are getting their tax returns ready, it pays to be wary of scammers impersonating the ATO. Even if it’s a call saying you are due a tax refund, that can be a red flag for a bad actor looking to fraudulently obtain your bank details. It's wise to verify any contact with the ATO directly with the office over the phone.  

Ben Young is Westpac’s Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Insights. Ben’s team researches and operates Westpac’s key fraud protection processes for the ~25 million transactions processed each day by the bank, particularly around credit cards, internet banking, branch and applications for credit. Ben has been intimately involved in Westpac’s fraud processes since 2007 and has worked in various data led risk processes since 1997.

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