#romancescams | Westpac has added to in branch technology to better flag scams and fraudulent behaviour

Westpac has introduced new technology to combat the increase in scamming activity during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jono Searle

Westpac will implement new fraud protection measures within its branch network after flagging a spike in scamming activity since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s second largest bank said it will implement new scam detection technology across its national network of bank branches, in an attempt to curb financial crimes and fraud.

Westpac’s new technology will send bank tellers real-time alerts as payments are being processed. If a transaction looks suspicious it will prompt an employee to ask a range of questions to help determine whether the customer wants to pause or decline a payment.

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Research conducted by Westpac shows on average, a person loses $12,000 when scammed, with the most common scams including being tricked into sharing personal details from scammers pretending to be a familiar business or the government.

In its annual survey, the bank identified 43 per cent of respondents did not know the difference between a scam of fraud, an increase of 21 per cent compared to the previous year.

Westpac will introduce new scamming technology across its national network of branches. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

Westpac’s chief customer engagement officer, Ross Miller said the technology’s implementation will better safeguard vulnerable people from being conned into scam and fraud related activities.

“Scams and fraud continue to be a real issue in the community,” he said.

“These changes will further enhance Westpac’s scam and fraud detection capabilities across all our banking channels; whether using our online and mobile banking services, making online purchases, or transacting in our branches.”

According to Westpac, 22 per cent of Australians are unable to detect a romance scam and 14 per cent of respondents did not recognise suspicious email phishing scams.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Targeting Scams Report found $634 million was lost to more than 353,000 reported scams in 2019.

Mr Miller said the new technology has already helped one customer avoid a $4000 romance scam, and another from losing $5000 from a remote access scam.

During the pandemic, financial assistance measures such as JobKeeper and the early release of superannuation scheme have been targeted by scamming syndicates.

“With lots of people spending time in isolation and applying for government support through initiatives like JobKeeper, all against the backdrop of tax time, it’s never been more important to be educated against those looking to take advantage,” Mr Miller

Business Reporter

Gerard Cockburn is a business reporter. Prior to joining The Australian, he has worked as a journalist for the Courier Mail and published in The Age.

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