New ways to thwart scammers

Technology has made banking easier and more accessible for customers. Customers can now manage their finances from the comfort of their own home. Online banking tools and services have transformed the way we interact with our money.

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Gone are the days when every transaction had to be carried out in person at a branch using passbooks and paper records.  

“As new scams emerge and scammers modify their tactics to trap more victims, we must constantly evaluate and refine our protection measures.”

However, the utility and improved service delivery have also brought a different set of problems which most companies – including the banking sector – are constantly grappling with.

Criminals are using technology in increasingly sophisticated ways to perpetrate scams and steal funds from millions of unwitting victims. Although scams are not new, they are a growing and insidious problem. The data reveals the scale of the problem.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision’s Scam Watch, Australians lost a record total of $3.1 billion to scams last year, an 80 per cent increase on 2021. Almost 240,000 different scams were reported to the ACCC in 2022.

The government, law enforcement agencies and the private sector are working together to safeguard and educate the community against scams, which unfortunately pose a threat to ANZ customers as well.  

That’s why ANZ is boosting its investment in new technologies to fight scammers and protect our customers and the wider community from financial crimes. As new scams emerge and scammers modify their tactics to trap more victims, we must constantly evaluate and refine our protection measures.

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This infographic explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community from the 2022 Targeting scams report. Source: ACCC

New tricks

Scammers are highly skilled, sly and well-equipped. The challenge for organisations is once they shut down one route, scammers quickly find another using new tricks and great expertise. Some of the scams are so convincing it’s hard to distinguish between genuine company communications and fraudulent ones.    

ANZ is committed to combating this societal problem and we have invested millions of dollars in new technologies to battle scammers. The advanced capabilities we’ve introduced have prevented about $61 million from going to cyber-criminals over the last nine months alone.

The advancements – alongside increased customer education and awareness, the first lines of defence  – mean we are better placed to keep our customers safe from the threat of scams.

Individuals of all age groups are finding themselves victims. The most prevalent scams involve third parties gaining remote access to customers’ computers and devices, followed closely by investment, romance and inheritance scams.

To that end, we have deployed a new capability to detect what are commonly known as ‘mule accounts’ using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.

A ‘money mule’ refers to a person who receives illegally obtained money from someone in their account and then transfers it to another person or account. ANZ’s pilot of this technology has detected nearly 1,400 high-risk mule accounts since April 2023.

We have also introduced new digital biometrics capabilities which allow ANZ to identify anomalies in usual payment processes and account opening to better protect customers from fraud while minimising security risks.

Our new behavioural risk engine has detected more than 2200 fraudulent online applications, preventing about $23 million being lost to criminals in the last nine months.

Anti phishing measures

ANZ is also using more than 170 new sophisticated algorithms that have helped prevent about $20 million of customer scam losses across multiple payment channels.

We’re also stepping up our monitoring of fake phishing sites, which are fraudulent websites similar in name and appearance to an official company website. They're designed to fool customers into believing it is a legitimate site and enter banking credentials such as login details and credit card numbers.

ANZ removes about 150 of these phishing sites every month with most of these sites taken down on the same day as reported and detected.

Scams involving crypto currency are also becoming more prevalent. As a result, ANZ has implemented new risk-based measures to mitigate this growing trend. We have also introduced new payment friction and delays to some payment destinations with high scam or fraud density.

We are also working with major telecommunications companies to activate anti spoofing technologies such as the Do Not Originate (DNO) service and alpha-tag protection to prevent scammers from abusing the “ANZ” brand in text messages. This practice has become increasingly common in Australia in recent months and involves scammers sending an SMS purporting to be from a legitimate organisation.

This tactic is known as ‘spoofing’ and it can make it very difficult for customers to spot a scam because it is contained in the same text message thread as previous communication from the company being impersonated.

The new measures are in addition to capabilities introduced in the last 12 months, including:

  • The identification of compromised credentials through routine and regular dark web scanning which has resulted in proactively disabling approximately 485 at-risk profiles, preventing about $2.5 million of fraud losses a month
  • Adoption of the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange’s Fraud Reporting Exchange platform – a centralised system offering near real-time reporting and actioning of fraud and scam recoveries while providing greater efficiency and timely communications between institutions for stronger scam prevention and recoveries, where possible

As the threat of scams continues to evolve, individuals and businesses need to be wary of emerging techniques and guard themselves from these cunning organised crime syndicates.

While ANZ is taking measures to combat scams, it is important to acknowledge this problem will persist and requires a whole of economy response. While banks and other organisations play a critical role, customers need to protect themselves and be extremely vigilant and suspicious of unsolicited contact.

Shaq Johnson is head of customer protection at ANZ.

ANZ’s customer protection teams and systems operate 24/7. Customers who believe they may have been a victim of a scam should contact us immediately, on 13 33 50 or visit us at for more information.

For more information on the types of scams and how to protect yourself visit

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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