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Westpac bolsters scam prevention measures

The major bank has announced a new layer of security to further protect its customers from potential scams.

The measure entitled Westpac Verify is designed to alert customers on potential account name mismatches for payments to a new BSB and account number through the New Payments Platform (NPP).

Additionally, the alert will apply if a customer transfers money to an account that Westpac has never transacted with previously. Payments will be put on hold for four hours in these instances and customers will be asked to review the transfer after receiving an SMS prompt from the bank.

Should the customer deem the transaction suspicious, Westpac encourages its customers to immediately contact the bank to change or cancel the payment. If the customer takes no action, the payment will proceed after the four hours have elapsed.

This new feature is currently being tested and will be rolled out to customers over the next month.

Westpac chief executive of consumer and business banking, Chris de Bruin, said this new measure has been introduced as scams grow at an unprecedented rate.

“Our latest customer scam data revealed customer losses reached a new record high in December, doubling from the year prior,” Mr de Bruin said.

“The majority of scam-related transactions happen when a customer is tricked into transferring their money to a scammer via online or mobile banking. They may think they’re sending money to a legitimate business, individual, or bank account they’ve been told has been set up in their name, but they’re not.

“Westpac will now pause some payments and give customers an opportunity to check if the recipient details are correct before proceeding with a transaction, adding another layer in the net to catch potential scams.”

Westpac data found that there was a 17 per cent increase in fraud-related calls in the days following the 2022 Black Friday sales. During that period, the major bank facilitated over 32 million customer interactions and 14 million point-of-sale transactions.

Furthermore, Liberal senator James Paterson said on the Mortgage Business Spotlight podcast that banks are ultimately responsible for ensuring that mortgages and other payments are protected from cyber criminals.

The shadow minister for cyber security and countering foreign interference stated one of the reasons why Australia is an attractive target for cyber criminals is because of the high number of digital transactions undertaken along with Australia being a wealthy country.  

[RELATED: Banks have ‘big responsibility’ to avoid cyber crime and scams: Senator Paterson]

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