ACCC boss demands banks do ‘more’ to protect customers from scams

Mar 29, 2023
Scammers are now utilising new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to deceive their victims. Source: Getty Images.

The head of Australia’s consumer watchdog is calling on bank executives to intensify their efforts in protecting customers from the recent surge in financial scams.

Speaking at the Australian Financial Review Banking Summit, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said Aussies reported over $569 million in stolen funds to scams in 2022, however, she highlighted the sum was only 13 per cent of the actual figure.

Scammers have considerably ramped up their efforts to steal from Australians through texts, calls, advertisements and investment scams. They are not only focusing on stealing finances but also obtaining customers’ records, including identity information.

According to Cass-Gottlieb, scammers are now utilising new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) that can mimic human voices to deceive their victims, making it more challenging for authorities to address the issue.

However, the ACCC boss said banks could be doing more to stop scammers, considering standard bank transfers is the most common form of payment.

“Financial institutions are in a unique position to help and more needs to be done to ensure banks are detecting and blocking scam transactions,” she said.

Chief of Commonwealth Bank Matt Comyn agreed that banks need to do more, saying the financial institutions need to find a way to keep the convenience of fast transactions but create friction back in the system in a bid to safeguard customers.

“This is absolutely a shared problem,” Comyn stated.

“A number of things need to change to improve customer protections.”

The ACCC’s comments come in response to the recent announcement by consumer finance company Latitude Group that the records of 14 million Australian and New Zealand customers were stolen from its systems two weeks ago.

The cyber attack resulted in the theft of 7.9 million driver’s licenses, approximately 53,000 passport numbers, and an additional 6.1 million records containing personal information such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth.

Having accumulated money over a lifetime of working, seniors have become prime targets for fraudsters. 

According to Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman, in August 2022, Aussies over 65 recorded the highest loss from scammers. 

“Australians over the age of 65 have reported almost four times the amount of losses to scammers in August this year compared to August 2019, before the pandemic,” Fentiman said.

“The top three scams are investment scams, dating and romance scams, and remote access scams where the victim is tricked into giving remote access to their computer, phone or tablet only to have their private information stolen.

“Investment scams promising big payouts or quick money are overwhelmingly the biggest scams people lose money to. And my advice is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Fentiman said it’s imperative to continue to shine a light on scams to negate the stigma that is often experienced by those who have fallen victim to a scam.


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