We are in the fight against scammers together

Have you had to explain to your loved ones recently how to spot a scam email or text message?

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Sadly more of us are needing to have these conversations around our kitchen tables. After reading news reports online, my teenage daughter asked me if I was afraid of clicking on a scammer’s link.

"Scammers play on our emotions. They target your wish to ensure your family is financially secure, they target peoples’ desire to find a life partner or they prey on fear that your money is in danger.”

I was honest – my caution has increased as the scammers have become more sophisticated. But at the same time, I said we are not abandoning the online world to these criminals.

With the right precautions we can go about our lives – banking, shopping and interacting with friends and family online.

Scams have become a global scourge. The US’s Federal Trade Commission estimates the global toll to be $US8.8 billion, while closer to home Australians lost a record total of $3.1 billion to scams last year, an 80 per cent increase on 2021.

Each loss is an individual tragedy that can get lost in the numbers. And with each loss people lose trust in completing the most simple functions online.

It can seem insoluble – as we invest more, so do the criminals. We can cut off one arm of the scam trade and others grow back as fraudsters adapt the latest tech and use behavioural psychology techniques in a bid to steal from their victims.

But this is not a threat we face as individuals. If we are to defeat scammers we must tackle this issue as a community. Everyone from banks, to government, law enforcement, social media and the telcos has a role to play.

In recent years ANZ has invested millions in technology and increased customer education and awareness activity to protect customers from the threat of scams.

Scam prevention

This includes biometrics, sophisticated algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning – all of which improve our ability to track and prevent scammers. We’re also identifying about 150 phishing or fraudulent websites each month and taking action to have them removed. These websites are carefully designed to deceive customers into believing they are official ANZ sites.

Our investment has prevented about $100 million of customers’ money going to cyber-criminals in the last 12 months alone.

In this year’s Federal Budget the government announced spending of $86.5 million to combat scammers and online fraud.

As part of ANZ’s continued commitment to educate the community about scams, from this week six million of our customers will receive an email from me outlining steps they can take to better protect themselves and their money.

So, how can we as individuals play our part?

It helps to understand that while criminals are using new technology, their approach has not changed greatly.

Scammers play on our emotions. They target your wish to ensure your family is financially secure, they target peoples’ desire to find a life partner or they prey on fear that your money is in danger. And they cynically exploit these natural human emotions.

Like the skepticism we would apply to the old-time con artist, the same rules apply. For instance if an investment scheme sounds too good to be true, it usually is. It makes sense to scrutinise carefully any promises made to you online.

Similarly, if an unsolicited caller claims to be from your bank and wants to gain remote access to your computer or asks for your banking details, do not agree to their request.

Open communication

In these cases it is always safer to hang up and call your bank on the trusted numbers you’ve always used or that can be found on their website. Any pushy caller claiming to be from a bank should not object to this.

Where possible, consider using PayID to make a payment. When you use PayID, the name connected to the account is automatically populated. This can help you check your money is going to the right place before you pay.

So much of our lives are now lived online, it can feel like a sense of self has been taken away when someone has been scammed.

One thing I repeat often to customers and loved ones is, if you have been scammed don’t be embarrassed.

Cyber-criminals are skilled at getting you to act quickly and banks can only assist if we know what’s happened. If something doesn’t feel right or you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, contact us immediately.

Speaking out could be the first step in stopping these criminals and disrupting their business model.

The more challenging we as a community make it for cyber-criminals, the more difficult it becomes for their scams to be successful. And that is something our entire community will be thankful for.

Shayne Elliott is Chief Executive Officer of ANZ.

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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