Australia’s banks should quickly introduce measures to stop scams, make their systems safer and reimburse victims or be made by Government to do so, says Consumer Action CEO Stephanie Tonkin. Ms Tonkin was speaking after attending a round table meeting of Government, industry, and consumer advocates in Canberra, called by Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones MP.
“I am delighted Minister Jones is taking this scams crisis seriously and call on him to use the Government’s powers to incentivise Australia’s banks to do more, act now, and safeguard customers money and reimburse victims when a scam is happening,” said Ms Tonkin.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians lost a staggering $4 billion ($11 million every day) to scammers last year. ASIC research also reveals that only around 13% of scam victims report the scam.
“Australia is a now soft target for scammers, that’s why everyone we know is being targeted by increasingly sophisticated scams – but we know some of these could be stopped by the introduction of more robust systems,” said Ms Tonkin.
“Callers to our helplines tell us how sophisticated scams have destroyed lives -heart-breaking stories from people who have lost everything and now feel unsafe. Worse still, it’s those who have most to lose, the elderly, families, those most vulnerable, who are suffering the most.
“We welcome some of the improvements individual banks have made, such as Commonwealth Bank’s (CBA) NameCheck function, but it’s not enough. Scam victims across the country need the banking industry to introduce further measures across the whole sector that will make it harder for crooks to scam customers,” she said.
In addition to better technological safeguards Ms Tonkin said that banks should introduce reimbursement guarantees for people who have done nothing wrong and fallen victim to a scam.
“Banks have a duty to make their payment systems safe for customers, but there is a lot more that needs to be done to help people who have been scammed. We also need to stop blaming scam victims for their loss –this kind of narrative is not appropriate for other victims of crime, we need to do more to support victims of scams,” she said.
Ms Tonkin concluded by saying the Federal Government’s current focus on scam disruption across the economy is a welcome opportunity, and that telecommunications companies, online platforms, as well as financial institutions, must all be required to play a role.
Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, firstname.lastname@example.org