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Banks unite to declare war on scammers


Australian banks have joined forces to launch a new Scam-Safe Accord to deliver a higher standard of protection for customers and put scammers out of business in Australia.

This Accord, between Australia’s customer owned banks (mutual banks, building societies and credit unions), and commercial banks, is a comprehensive set of anti-scam measures across the entire industry.

“This Scam-Safe Accord is a new offensive in the war on scams. It reflects the banking sector’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding every Australian. It outlines the actions every bank will take to protect Australian consumers and small businesses and to harden the system against scams,” said ABA CEO Anna Bligh.

“The initiatives we launch today are a significant step forward and demonstrate the banking industry’s commitment to fight scams. It doesn’t matter if someone banks with a regional mutual bank or the largest bank in the country, customers can be confident their bank is working hard to protect their money,” said COBA CEO Mike Lawrence.

At the heart of the Scam-Safe Accord is a $100 million investment by the industry in a new confirmation of payee system to be rolled out across all Australian banks. Confirmation of payee will help reduce scams by ensuring people can confirm they are transferring money to the person they intend to.

With 15.4 billion transactions worth $2.5 trillion occurring every year across the banking sector, the design and build of an industry wide confirmation of payee system is a major undertaking. Design of the new system will start straight away and it will be built and rolled out over 2024 and 2025.

Banks have committed to introduce new and higher protections into their systems, meaning customers should expect more warnings and delays when paying someone new or increasing payment limits. To prevent misuse of accounts through identity fraud, all banks will uplift technology and controls, including all major banks introducing unique identification measures known as biometric checks when opening new accounts.

In addition, the Scam-Safe Accord includes a major expansion of intelligence sharing across the sector with all banks acting on scams intelligence from the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange by mid-2024, and joining the Fraud Reporting Exchange. This means critical information is shared across the banking sector at speed about scam transactions, improving the chances of preventing scams and recovering stolen funds.

“Preventing scammers from taking the hard-earned money of everyday Australians is a shared responsibility. As scammers work hard to devise new ways to steal money, it’s critical that governments, industry and consumers remain vigilant to make Australia a hard target for scammers,” said Mike Lawrence.

“Recent data from banks shows that $600 million in stolen funds has been returned to customers over the last year. To keep up this effort it is critical that government, banks, telcos, social media and crypto platforms work together as part of an eco-system to stay one step ahead of sophisticated criminal gangs,” Anna Bligh said.

Banks play a key role but are only one part of the solution. The ABA and COBA look forward to seeing details from other sectors about their plans to proactively address scams.

The Scam-Safe Accord initiatives are based on the principles of disrupt, detect and respond. They include the following commitments from banks. The initiatives define a banking sector industry standard following the authorisation, from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in August for ABA banks to work collectively to develop initiatives to help reduce scams.

For more information on the Scam-Safe Accord, click here.

For further information, please contact media@coba.asn.au.

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