When NAB customer Sasha* received a phone call purporting to be from NAB, she was initially suspicious - but the number displayed on her phone was the same as the one listed on the bank’s website.
Despite the number appearing legitimate, a scammer was on the other end of the phone and was using a technique known as “spoofing”.
The scammer told Sasha there was some unusual activity on her account and she was warned her account would be blocked to stop the potentially fraudulent transactions.
“The scammer told Sasha that someone had access to her account and was moving her money,” NAB lead in the digital fraud and scams team Jenny Pham said.
“With the number of data breaches happening across Australia, Sasha was naturally concerned someone may have had access to her details and may be stealing her hard-earned money,” Pham said.
Sasha followed the scammer’s instructions and transferred all of her savings – a total of $17,436 – to another account the scammer had created.
“It was only after the call was disconnected, and Sasha noticed her bank account hadn’t been blocked – as the scammer said it would be – that she began to have doubts,” Pham said.
Luckily, Sasha acted on her doubts and immediately called NAB’s fraud team and they were able to block the money transfer.
But now NAB is trying to make sure no one is in the same position again. Working with telecommunications providers, NAB is placing bank phone numbers on the ‘Do Not Originate’ list to help reduce scam calls impersonating NAB numbers.
The bank has also added additional protections to reduce scam messages appearing in legitimate bank text message threads.
Since implementing changes in late December, NAB has seen a 50 per cent reduction in these types of spoofing cases, leading to a 70 per cent reduction in customer losses.
NAB executive for group investigations and fraud Chris Sheehan said these actions would make it harder for the criminals behind the scams, but said more work was needed, and that customers must remain vigilant.
“Scams impersonating NAB and other recognised brands have continued to rise, and it’s clear we need more collaboration across business sectors to stop this occurring,” Sheehan said.
“This is not just a problem for banks and telcos, this is an issue for every public and private organisation, and we urgently need a more coordinated national response to the issue. By working together in a ‘Team Australia’ response across business sectors, levels of government and the community, we can reduce the impact these scams are having.”
*Name has been changed for privacy.