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Millions of Aussie bank customers warned: ‘Everyone is at risk’

Logos of the big four banks and Australian money.
Aussie bank customers are being warned to say vigilant about scams this holiday season. (Source: Getty)

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has warned people to be on high alert over the holiday season as criminals target unsuspecting consumers.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh said scammers pretending to be from a bank could contact customers. Bligh said Aussies should remember banks would never ask people to transfer funds over the phone.

“Scammers are sophisticated users of behavioural psychology. They use every trick in the book to convince you to hand over your personal details and to take your money,” she said.

“At particular risk are the vulnerable and the elderly but it's important to remember that these criminals don’t discriminate, and everyone is at risk.”

Bligh said this time of year was very busy for consumers and the scammers were able to use that to their advantage.

“Scammers prey on busy people, so we are asking individuals to pause to question the authenticity of a call, an email, or a person who claims to be from a trusted organisation,” she said.

“At this time of the year, with Christmas upon us, we’re encouraging people to be extra vigilant.”

According to data from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) 215,505 scams - worth $527 million - have been reported in 2022.

That is an average of 19,591 scams a month - worth $47.9 million. Actual scams and losses are expected to be vastly higher because the ACCC estimates only about 13 per cent of scams are reported.

“Consumers need to be alert to all types of scams, including shopping scams, at this time of year,” Bligh said.

“We also see a large number of so-called impersonation or spoofing scams, which involve scammers impersonating the phone number of legitimate businesses, including banks, in SMS and voice calls. The scammers use this technique to gain a person's trust and to convince people to transfer their funds to another bank account.”

Bligh said there were a number of things individuals could do to protect themselves against scams:

  • Remember, banks will never ask people to transfer funds to another account over the phone

  • Never provide banking information or passwords over the phone

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious emails, links or texts

  • Don’t give money or personal information to anyone if unsure

  • Immediately report any suspicious activity to your bank

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