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Westpac to block certain payments: ‘Devastating impact’

Westpac says blocking these payments will help reduce financial losses to scams.

The Westpac sign on the exterior of a building.
Westpac is cracking down on scammers by blocking some payments. (Source: Getty)

Westpac has begun trialling new customer protections for some cryptocurrency payments to reduce scam losses.

Westpac data found investment scams accounted for around half of all scam losses, and that a third of all scam payments were transferred directly to a cryptocurrency exchange.

Westpac executive of customer services and technology Scott Collary estimated the new security measures could save customers millions of dollars.

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“Digital exchanges have a legitimate role to play in the financial ecosystem. But, since the rise of digital currency, we’ve noticed that scammers are increasingly using overseas exchanges,” Collary said.

“Often our customers only discover they’ve been scammed after the money has left the country, making recovery extremely difficult.

“The trial of our new security measures will better protect customers from scams. In particular, it will target investment scams, which have a devastating impact on our customers.”

Westpac said a phased trial of the new protection blocks would be rolled out over the coming weeks.

Investment scam red flags

  • Fake social media ads: Many investment scams are promoted on social media sites and sometimes include fake celebrity endorsements. Scammers will often ask you to fill out a form registering your interest and will then call you to discuss the opportunity.

  • Fake websites and documents: Scammers may use false prospectuses or investment portals to gain your trust. These may ask you to provide personal details so the scammer can contact you to discuss the fake offer.

  • They know personal information: They have often already fraudulently obtained personal details like your name, ending digits on your credit card or approximate location, which makes them appear legitimate.

  • They want you to action something: They will often instruct you to complete an action while on the phone to them – like updating your banking details, increasing your daily payment limit, downloading an app or sending money to a 'new' account.

  • They use spoofing software: To convince you the call is genuine, they may use software to send you a fake SMS that appears to be from the business they say they're calling you from while on the phone with you.

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