Scam trends to watch

Fighting fraud at Westpac

Scam trends to watch


By Mina Martin

Customer scam losses at Westpac are down by around 30% in FY24 compared to the previous year, reflecting effective new measures to protect customers, the bank said.

“The steps the bank is taking to protect customers are paying off,” said Ben Young (pictured above), Westpac’s head of fraud and financial crime insights.

New features for safety

Westpac introduced the Verify feature in June, which alerts customers to potential account name mismatches when adding a new payee. This is aimed at preventing business email compromise (BEC) scams and mistaken payments.

The fraud team estimates that Verify is avoiding around 200 errors per day, significantly reducing BEC scam losses.

Additionally, the SaferPay feature, launched in March, has been effective in lowering scam losses by over $1 million. SaferPay prompts customers with a series of questions for high-risk payments, identified by the bank’s AI algorithm.

Shift in scam tactics

As financial institutions tighten controls on crypto-based investment scams, scammers are reverting to non-crypto options, including fake term deposits and impersonating bank brands. Scammers often cold call targets, posing as bank security staff, to trick them into revealing private details.

Rise in business account scams

There is an increase in the use of newly onboarded domestic business bank accounts for scams. Scammers register fake businesses with ASIC to deceive targets.

Tax time caution

With tax return season underway, scammers are impersonating the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Even calls offering tax refunds can be red flags.

“It’s wise to verify any contact with the ATO directly with the office over the phone,” Young said.

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