It’s distressing to see the devastating effects fraud and scams can have on the impacted victims; not just financially, but also in terms of their emotional wellbeing.
Australians have seen a significant increase in the number and type of scams in recent years. The article in The Age on 28 September, 2022 in relation to NAB customer Bridget Box, who was unfortunately the target of scammers, is a graphic example of this.
These scammers are not a couple of kids with a laptop. They are sophisticated, transnational, highly-organised criminals – the same people who traffic drugs and engage in serious crime.
We know the banking industry has an important role to play and we are working hard to do more.
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this growing societal problem. We must all remain vigilant, always.
The issue requires a comprehensive public and private sector response spanning different business sectors, levels of government and agencies to keep our community safe.
Banks will always try to prevent these scams and recover money where possible.
However, once the money has left a victim’s account, it is often moved overseas quickly and it can be difficult to recover due to the sophistication of these criminals.
In 2021, NAB blocked or prevented over a million scams targeting our customers. We were able to save or recover over $60 million of our customers’ money.
What is spoofing?
Phishing scams, which can include a tactic called ‘spoofing’, continues to increase at an alarming rate.
These scams involve criminals impersonating a phone number of a legitimate business in both SMS and voice calls, using readily available technology to overstamp the legitimate number on the number they are calling from.
This means that the legitimate phone number will appear on the screen display of a victim’s mobile phone, even though the actual call is from a completely different number.
Every business can have their phone number spoofed by a scammer, with phone calls impersonating the Australian Taxation Office, energy and telecommunications providers, utilities like Australia Post, and the banks commonplace.
Criminals impersonate these businesses as a way to gain victims’ trust, using the good name of businesses to trick people into moving money to the scammer.
Unfortunately this is what occurred in Ms Box’s case, and while we immediately moved to recover the funds, we were only able to recover $8130 because the money had already been moved on.
NAB has a dedicated team that monitors customers’ accounts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for suspicious activity. We provide dedicated training to our bankers, and regularly run customer education webinars with tips and advice on what to look out for.
We have an online Security Hub where we regularly publish security alerts and articles, which had 900,000 visits this financial year, and also publish regular alerts on our digital channels. We also send regular emails and alerts to our customers detailing the latest scams and preventative steps. We encourage our customers to read these.
There are other steps everyone can take to protect themselves and to be alert and vigilant.
Treat any unsolicited phone calls with caution. If you get an unsolicited call from your bank and are unsure, hang up and call the bank back on their official website phone number.
Importantly, we will never ask a customer to transfer money to another account to keep it safe.
If you notice any unusual transactions on your account, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We know we have an important role to play. We are working hard to do more, but it will take a village to come together to raise awareness and to protect against these predators.
Chris is NAB’s Executive Group Investigations and Fraud. Prior to NAB, Chris had more than 27 years’ experience in the Australian Federal Police before joining NAB’s investigations and fraud team in 2018. He is a Board Member of the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange.