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A Focus on Scams

Friday 31 March 2023

Latitude Financial and Meriton's recent significant breaches are a reminder that data breaches and cyber security are critical.


The rise in reported scams shows that, in the long run, they have detrimental impacts on consumers.  

This week the Scamwatch report highlighted a rise in bank impersonation scams.

Last year, there were 14,603 reported banking impersonation scams, with $20 million lost.  

NAB has reported a new PayID-scam. At the time of writing, the latest data states that consumers have lost $260 000 in PayID-related scams.  

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC ) Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said in an official statement about bank impersonation scams, "Following recent mass data breaches, many Australians were encouraged to monitor their accounts for suspicious activity. Sadly, this has led to consumers acting on these scam calls and text messages out of fear that their accounts have been compromised."

Last year ended with Optus and the Medibank beaches splashed across the headlines and the announcement of the investigations by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

The privacy commissioner is also working with Latitude Financial and Meriton, looking at the circumstances around their data breaches.


Enforcement Priorities 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) listed scam detection and disruption as their second enforcement item on their 2023 to 2024 enforcement priorities and working to establish a national anti-scam centre.  

Th the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has also listed financial scams as an enforcement focus for 2023.   

Beyond Compliance Obligations 

Some businesses are moving beyond tick compliance with cyber security and data privacy obligations to mitigate consumer harm and vulnerability to phone and text scams.  

Businesses are taking steps to invest in 'anti-scam technology'. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) welcomed a partnership between Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) partnered to create a Scam Indicator which focuses on detecting high-risk scams.   

AFCA Chief Ombudsman and CEO David Locke said in an official statement at the CBA and Telstra partnership announcement, "At AFCA, we see the devastating impact scams have on people, so we welcome any steps firms can take to protect consumers. We urge all banks and telcos to contribute to this important work."

AFCA noted that they received over 4000 scam-related complaints between 2021 and 2022.  

While the project is still in the proof-of-concept stage, testing CBA said that their scam detector could cut consumer losses from $15 million to $ 20 million.