More broadly, cybercrime is a growing danger.
“Between July 2015 and June 2016, CERT (the national Computer Emergency Response Team, which sits within the Attorney-General’s Department) responded to almost 15,000 cyber security incidents – 418 of which involved systems of national interest and critical infrastructure,” Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft said in a speech to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in late 2016.
Also in 2016, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found 65 per cent of Australian organisations experienced cybercrime in the previous 24 months.
Senior Manager, External Investigations at ANZ Shaq Johnson says financial institutions are fighting back.
“ANZ has put in place a number of security measures to prevent, detect and mitigate the impact of digital and identity fraud,” he says.
At ANZ, digital-related fraud dropped consistently in the last six months of 2016, and in October was recorded at less than half of the corresponding period in 2015.
“The number of victims we’ve seen has dropped from its highest point of 570 customers in October 2015 to just 198 in October 2016,” Johnson says.
In addition, ANZ has partnered with IDCARE, an independent support service for victims of identity and cyber-related crimes.
David Lacey is the Managing Director at IDCARE. He says recovering personal information once stolen can be arduous.
“Often people who have had their identity taken over can only get so far with one institution,” Lacey says.
“A bank can get their accounts back in order but the problem can be much bigger, requiring new passports and driving licences, contacting phone and internet providers, checking credit reports, reporting to the police, and so on.”
Johnson says high-net worth individuals and businesses can be targeted with well advanced pieces of malware designed to gain access to online banking and deplete bank accounts.
The sophisticated malware is able to automate the attack by looking for the highest balance account before transferring funds electronically to another financial institution.
Back in order
George was immensely relieved when Holly and the specialised Identity Fraud Team stopped his old accounts, set up new ones, and applied multiple layers of security to his ANZ profile to prevent unauthorised access.
He was then referred to IDCARE to help him get his life back in order.
“The fact that ANZ picked up the suspicious activity and pre-emptively stopped all transactions on the account says a lot about the progress financial institutions are already making on the front lines of detecting and preventing identity crime,” Lacey says.
The methods of identity thieves are sophisticated, numerous and growing. Vigilance when using technology is important, but customers can take comfort in the knowledge their financial institutions are actively helping to stem the tide.