Commissioner's Blog: Beware the new breed of bank scams
Scammers have been pretending to call or text from financial institutions for years, but it’s the latest twist on these banking impersonation scams that should have all consumers on high alert.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised the alarm after reports to Scamwatch indicated new technology was being used to make scam calls look like they were coming from the bank’s legitimate phone number and to allow scam texts to appear in the same conversation thread as genuine bank messages.
These tricks mean it may not be possible for consumers to distinguish a real message or call from those that aren’t based on a phone number or message thread alone, and sadly many are falling victim.
Since January 2022, our WA ScamNet team has heard from 20 victims who reportedly lost $1.9 million to bank impersonation scams. When you consider that’s an average loss of almost $96,000 per person, it’s clear just how financially and emotionally devastating these scams can be.
One WA victim’s bank account was drained of almost $41,000, after she answered a call from the same number as one listed on the back of her credit card. Posing as a bank employee, the scammer claimed her accounts had been hacked as a ruse to gain control of her finances.
A big red-flag is communications that come with a sense of urgency, such as claims of fraudulent activity or a frozen account. No matter how legitimate the call or message seems, a bank will never ask you to urgently transfer funds.
We urge all WA consumers to ‘practice the pause’ to stop scammers in their tracks. If you receive an SMS with a phone number to call, do not use it. Instead, call your bank direct on a number you have sourced yourself. Likewise, hang up if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank requesting you to transfer money to ‘keep it safe’. Ask for a reference number and call your bank back using contact details you have found independently.
Never provide online banking passwords, one-time security codes, pins or tokens to anyone over the phone.
Contact your bank or financial institution immediately if you think you have been scammed, and report scam activity to WA ScamNet at www.scamnet.wa.gov.au
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
Share this page: