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Australian banking sector launches “Scam Safe Accord” to combat scam epidemic

Published Nov 24, 2023 11:00 Updated Nov 24, 2023 12:00
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In a collective move designed to bolster Australia's defence against the growing menace of financial scams, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) have announced the “Scam Safe Accord”.

The collaborative initiative aligns with the Albanese Government’s comprehensive strategy to combat scammers, representing a united effort across private and government sectors.

The Scam Safe Accord, welcomed by major banks like the National Australia Bank (NAB), is a concerted effort by Australian banks to enhance customer protection.

NAB Executive Group Investigations and Fraud, Chris Sheehan, emphasised the need for a coordinated approach.

“We’re in the middle of a global scam epidemic and while there is no silver bullet, we need to make it as hard as possible for these criminals to be successful,” he stated.

Six priority initiatives

The Accord outlines six priority initiatives aimed at reinforcing banking safety for Australian consumers.

These include an expansion of the confirmation of payee system, increased warnings, a targeted effort against identity scams, and delays for high-risk transactions, along with enhanced intelligence and data sharing across the sector.

An industry investment into a new payee confirmation system is expected to go a long way to addressing business email compromise scams.

“Australians finally have a government that is fighting back against scams after being left to fend for themselves for years,” Federal Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones said.

“We delivered on our election commitment to establish a National Anti-Scam Centre and we are glad to see the banking industry taking their own proactive steps.

"Our new National Anti‑Scams Centre is disrupting new scams every day, and now this accord adds to that momentum."

Cross-sector cooperation vital

The Government is also developing stringent new industry codes for banks, telecommunications companies and digital platforms.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh and COBA CEO Mike Lawrence underscored the importance of economy-wide participation in this anti-scam initiative.

“Preventing scammers from taking the hard-earned money of everyday Australians is a shared responsibility,” said Mike Lawrence.

“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.”

“Recent data from banks shows that $600 million in stolen funds been returned to customers over the last year,” Anna Bligh said.

“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.”

The ABA and COBA said they look forward to “seeing details from other sectors about their plans to proactively address scams.”

The Scam Safe Accord follows authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in August for ABA banks to collectively develop initiatives to reduce scams.

Read more on Proactive Investors AU

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Australian banking sector launches “Scam Safe Accord” to combat scam epidemic
 

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