CommBank joins new ‘intelligence loop’ to combat SMS phishing scams

CommBank joins new ‘intelligence loop’ to combat SMS phishing scams

CBA general manager of group fraud, James Roberts (Supplied)

In an effort to reduce the number of SMS phishing scam victims, Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) has become one of the first banks in Australia to welcome a new ‘anti-scam intelligence loop’ that allows different organisations to quickly share information with one another.

The intel loop has been co-designed by the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX) and National Anti-Scam Centre (NASC), allowing institutions like banks, telecommunications networks, internet service providers and social media companies to share information on scams between themselves more easily.

Organisations that integrate into the loop will be able to quickly share verified information with other participants so that phone numbers and URLS used by scammers for calls and SMSs can be blocked, while also helping take down fake websites, social media ads and posts.

Since integrating, CBA has submitted more than 1,200 entries into the loop containing scam phone numbers and dodgy URLs.

According to NASC – a virtual centre that sits within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) - phishing was the most common type of scam attempted in 2023.

“We view this as a ‘whole-of-ecosystem’ problem, with the majority of scams originating outside the banking sector, often as fake websites, texts and social media advertisements,” CBA general manager of group fraud James Roberts said.

“As the first bank to integrate into AFCX’s intel loop, CBA is committing to sharing across industries the intelligence we collect, to help bolster the nation’s response. It has been encouraging recently to see a reduction in the amount our customers are losing to scams, but there is more to do.

“Our fraud team helped to build the intel loop infrastructure, adding another layer to Australia’s defence. To combat scams effectively we must coordinate across banks, telcos, governments, social media and digital platforms. CBA encourages key industry players to integrate into the loop, as the more organisations contributing intelligence the stronger our defences will be.”

Commonwealth Bank is a founding member of the AFCX, an independent not-for-profit set up to share insights on scams and help businesses, government and law enforcement agencies collaborate better. In 2023, the agency set up the Fraud Reporting Exchange (FRX) – a platform banks can use to quickly report the movement of scam payments to each other.

According to AFCX, Australians lose more than $6 billion annually due to financial and cybercrime. The exchange accumulates and aggregates data from both domestic and international sources to protect organisations and customers against financial crime and cybercrime.

Other members part of AFCX include major financial players like ANZ (ASX: ANZ), Westpac (ASX: WBC), National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB), Bendigo Bank (ASX: BEN), Macquarie (ASX: MQG) Latitude (ASX: LFS), Optus and EFTPOS Australia.

Westpac launches new security features

The news comes a day after Westpac announced it is implementing a new security feature – dubbed Westpac Verify - for consumer and small business customers.

The feature will include an up-front risk indicator to alert customers when there is a potential account name mismatch when they’re adding a new payee using a BSB and account number, in addition to warning customers when Westpac has not made a payment to the account before.

The hope is the alert will prompt customers to review payee details, helping to stop scams and mistaken payments.

Small business owners will also see additional features rolled out under Westpac SaferPay, which has been in operation since March. The feature alerts customers to potential scams by asking a series of questions that are presented for new payments detected to have a potential scam risk.

If customer responses suggest the payment may be a scam, the bank will not allow the payment to be processed.  

“Scammers are always finding new ways to target unsuspecting Australians, so it’s important we’re continuing to make it harder for them to operate here in Australia,” Westpac head of fraud prevention Ben Young said.

“Our latest customer scam data reveals losses have come down, but we know scammers are still wreaking havoc and having a devastating impact on people’s lives.

“The more information we know about a payment, the more our fraud systems can find the likely scams among the millions of genuine payments, and help to protect customers’ funds.”

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