Business email compromise scams
10 November 2021
Transcript: 2GB’s Money News with Brooke Corte
SPEAKERS: Anna Bligh, Brooke Corte
Brooke Corte Australians lost a record $851 million to scammers. Actually, if we had the real figures, all the ones that weren’t reported as well, it would probably look more like three times that figure. Scam Awareness Week this week is a timely reminder to stay on our toes.
Investment scams cost Australians more in the first six months of this year than over all of 2020 and I wonder how much you know about payment redirection scams. This is a type of false billing scam where cyber criminals steal money posing as a legitimate payment site like PayPal or a credit card company, maybe even your own bank, and the losses are getting worse. Anna Bligh is the CEO of the Australian Banking Association. Welcome back to Money News, Anna.
Anna Bligh Good evening. Great to be with you.
Brooke Corte Scam losses hit a new record last year, are we on track to lose even more this year?
Anna Bligh Well, I’d like to think that, you know, this is something we can keep under control. But unfortunately, as more and more of us do our banking or business online, it is an ever increasing “rich field” if you like, for scammers and people who are using every tool at their disposal to get at your money.
There are things that we can all do to protect ourselves. Banks are putting huge investments into stopping scams from even getting to the customer. Unfortunately, though, no matter how tightly you draw the net, there’s always someone out there inventing a new scam.
Brooke Corte These payment redirection scams that I mentioned, they’re getting worse, we collectively lost $120 million last year, small and micro businesses really suffering badly. Anna, I know you’ve just said that there’s obviously investment underway but can the banking industry do more to stamp out these kinds of scams?
“Unlike paying to a BSB and account number, PayID gives the user the ability to confirm the name of the account holder before they transfer funds. So it is a much much safer way to make the payment.”ABA CEO Anna Bligh
Anna Bligh Well, these scams are particularly vicious, they not only impact, as you said, small and often micro businesses, but they also really impact the customer, because the customer has made what they believe to be a genuine payment to the business and it turns out there was a scammer in between the customer and the business with a false email, a false invoice.
There are things that you can do to make sure that you that you are more likely to be sending your money to the person who did provide you with the goods or the services. So PayID is a relatively new feature, it’s only been around for a couple of years. And it is a unique feature that helps prevent scams. Unlike paying to a BSB and account number, PayID gives the user the ability to confirm the name of the account holder before they transfer funds. So it is a much much safer way to make the payment.
Unfortunately, not all small businesses have registered for PayID, which means their customers can’t use that safer method. There’s about 8 million Australians now with a PayID.
And I can say to every one of the businesses listening to your program, it is a very easy thing to register and it’s very easy to use and I would really encourage anyone that who doesn’t, or isn’t registered with their bank for PayID to talk to their bank and do so as quickly as they can. It is as I said, a much, much safer way to invoice, to get payments and it’s one that scammers cannot get in the middle of.
Brooke Corte And what are some of the other advice you’re offering bank customers on scam awareness and avoidance, other practical tips?
Anna Bligh Well, the other things that you can do in relation to those invoicing scams, is it’s much safer if you use BPAY, or if the business does e-invoices.
But as a customer, I think you started by saying we’re all getting texts and phone calls and it’s true, they’re trying to get into whatever part of the system they can. If you get a phone call from someone who says that they’re your bank, or if you get a text saying that it’s your bank, and they are asking for pin numbers or account details, or worse if they say they’re from someone like the tax office or a bank, and they’re threatening you that if you don’t make a certain payment that they will call the police. These are very common scams, but they can be very threatening. Your bank will never do that, your bank will never call and threaten to call the police on you. They will never text you or email you asking you for your bank account details.
So if you get one of those, it’s not real, hang up or disregard it and call your bank if you want to know if there was something that the bank did genuinely need from you.
Brooke Corte And Anna just finally, cryptocurrency scams have become a massive, well, we can say global problem, haven’t they. Fueled by the anonymous unregulated nature of crypto, and we were chatting on this program last week about the Commonwealth Bank moving to introduce crypto trading into its everyday banking app. Crypto use is on the rise and the big banks are jumping into the sector. So are you and the banks are they prepared for the inevitable rise of crypto-related scams?
Anna Bligh Running a bank these days means that you have to be in the digital world and it means you have to keep investing in cybersecurity and the safety, the cyber safety and the digital safety of customers. That is now core business of all banks. The crypto world, as you say, is one that is growing in popularity. And you are right, it is not regulated in Australia. And so customers do need to have very much a “buyer beware” lens when they’re looking at some of these sites.
There are legitimate crypto sites and just like many other areas of scamming, there are fake sites and people need to be very, very cautious. This is something which I think over the next couple of years we’re going to see possibly, the central bank and government and regulators take a lot more interest in.
Brooke Corte Anna Bligh, CEO of the Banking Association, thank you very much for your time on money news.
Anna Bligh Thank you.
“The small business sector is already powering Australia’s economic recovery. In the three months to August 2021, $10 billion in new lending was made to small business.”