The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has announced it is introducing measures to strengthen its payment system that will make it harder for crooks to scam their customers. The measures called NameCheck and CallCheck are some of the customer verification systems Consumer Action and other consumer groups have been advocating for.
Consumer Action CEO Stephanie Tonkin welcomed CBA’s move and called on all Australian banks to quickly follow the CBA’s lead in enhancing protections against scammers for customers, but noted that more needs to be done.
“Australians lost a staggering $4 billion to scammers last year and everyone in the country is being targeted by increasingly sophisticated scams – some of which could be stopped by the introduction of more robust customer identification systems,” Ms Tonkin said.
“It is completely unfair that individuals bear the full losses associated with scams when scammers must have access to bank accounts to succeed. The current lack of financial incentive for the banks to fix this has meant that improvements like this are too slow to be implemented across the sector.
“We call upon other banks to follow suit, and if CBA can help them roll out the necessary technology, then they should do so. Scam prevention should be a shared goal and not a point of competition between banks,” Ms Tonkin said.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians losses to scams may have reached over $4 billion last year. ASIC research also reveals that only around 13% of scam victims report.
“Every day we hear heart-breaking stories on our helpline from people who have lost everything with severe impacts that extend to their mental and physical health, so what we need is a sophisticated, coordinated and well-resourced response from banks and Government to stop and catch these criminals,” she said.
Ms Tonkin said that in addition to better technological safeguards banks should introduce reimbursement guarantees for people who have done nothing wrong and fallen victim to a scam.
“CBA is taking a step in the right direction to make its payment systems safe, but there is a lot more that needs to be done to help people who have been scammed,” she said.
Ms Tonkin concluded by saying that while the Federal Government’s current focus on scam disruption across the economy is a welcome opportunity—telecommunications companies, online platforms, as well as financial institutions, must all be required to play a role.
For more information read our briefing paper on how to incentivise scam prevention.