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Transcript: Anna Bligh on ABC Radio Hobart – using PayID against scams

Transcript: Anna Bligh on ABC Radio Hobart – using PayID against scams

9 November 2022

ABA CEO Anna Bligh spoke on ABC Radio Hobart Breakfast with Ryk Goddard on PayID, farm scams, and the resilience of bank customers to rising interest rates.

Ryk Goddard  Do you get to the point where you’re wondering when there’s breaches of information out of your bank from Medibank, from Optus about who’s scamming who here as the Banking Association reminding us to be aware of scammers, but other people taking their information and losing it scamming us just as much. Anna Bligh is the Chief Executive of the Australian Banking Association. Hi, Anna.

Anna Bligh Good morning. How are you?

Ryk Goddard Yeah, good. Thanks for joining us. I know, often if you get money pinched out of your account by someone and let your bank know they go, we’ve put that back in and we’ll pursue them – is that going to be the same for say this family who lost $60,000 to scammers after their data was compromised by Optus?

“We’ve seen about a 20% increase in farm and agribusiness scams over the last 12 months, most of them in the payment for things like heavy equipment. “

ABA CEO Anna Bligh

Anna Bligh Well, this week is Scams Awareness Week. And it’s a good opportunity for us to be talking about these things, and taking all the precautions that we reasonably can. It’s very hard for me without knowing all the circumstances of this particular family, but as a general rule, as you say, if money is taken out of your account, that is, you know, because of a breach or a failure in the bank system, then, more often than not, they will restore those funds. If you however, have done something, given somebody else a PIN number, transferred money to an account willingly without knowing perhaps what was at the other end of it… you know, there will be some question from the bank about who’s liable. And that depends on every single circumstance. And people really should talk to their banks who will do their best to help.

Ryk Goddard  So these ones where people have transferred money without knowing where it’s going to, we’ve heard this week about a real estate scam that’s operated like that with big sums of money. But you’ve also been hearing about farm business scams, which will be close to the heart of Tasmanians. What’s been happening there?

Anna Bligh Yes well, it’s just clear that there is no sector of the economy that’s safe. And this is one of those things that doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re rich or not so wealthy, people will try to trick you out of your money. We’ve seen about a 20% increase in farm and agribusiness scams over the last 12 months, most of them in the payment for things like heavy equipment. And there’s been a lot of purchases of heavy equipment in the farming sector, because the federal government has put in place some very attractive tax arrangements for any business, you know, an instant asset write off. So you know, quite reasonably those businesses have been looking at their equipment and updating.

“There are certainly some things that businesses can do, and customers, to reduce the risk of scams. One is a service called PayID, where you can pay directly to somebody’s email or telephone number. E-invoicing is another thing that small businesses can do. And I’d really recommend that people talk to their bank about how to make sure that they can do those things because it will keep them safer.”

Anna Bligh

And, you know, unfortunately, some people have paid scammers instead of legitimate businesses. There are things – there’s no silver bullet here – but there are certainly some things that businesses can do, and customers, to reduce the risk of scams. One is a service called PayID, where you can pay directly to somebody’s email or telephone number. E-invoicing is another thing that small businesses can do. And I’d really recommend that people talk to their bank about how to make sure that they can do those things because it will keep them safer.

Ryk Goddard As will two factor authentification a lot of the time. Anna Bligh, you’re interestingly positioned now as CEO of the Australian Banking Association, and as someone who’s been a leader in government, is this a massive failure of the free market, where they’ve gone “do you know what, we’ll regulate ourselves, please don’t put rules on us. It’s all going to work.” Clearly, it’s totally failed. Have governments let us down by not regulating strongly enough in this area?

“Some of the companies that I heard you earlier saying “people are hanging on to your data” – it’s because the Privacy Act requires them to hold your data for seven years. Is that a good thing for us? Is it necessary? Let’s rethink it.”

Anna Bligh

Anna Bligh Well, first of all, I’d say it’s not all regulation free. Most of corporate Australia is required to abide by pretty strict privacy laws. That doesn’t mean that, you know, robbers still don’t get in. I mean, really, we’re looking at an entirely different world. Once upon a time banks spent a lot of money building great big buildings with cast iron vaults to keep your money safe. The bank robbers of the 21st century don’t carry sawn off shotguns, you know, they’re sitting in front of a computer or in a call centre. And it’s big business, you know, the criminal business of trying to trick people or banks out of money.

So privacy laws do actually exist in both state and federal governments. There is a current review of the Privacy Act, which I think will give the Federal Government a real chance to think about how to regulate in the 2020s. Many of these laws were written 30, 40 years ago when we thought about and used information differently. So, you know, some of the companies that I heard you earlier saying “people are hanging on to your data” – it’s because the Privacy Act requires them to hold your data for seven years. Is that a good thing for us? Is it necessary? Let’s rethink it.

Ryk Goddard You’re listening to Anna Bligh, Chief Executive of the Australian Banking Association. It’s Scams Awareness Week, but it feels like the level at which we’re getting scammed is national now Anna. It’s not just a sort of weird text message or a strange Russian person offering to marry you anymore. How have governments, and you’ve got this amazing insight from the roles that you’ve had, not legislated around these rules sooner? How could the rules have got 30 years old?

Anna Bligh Well, I think if you think about how much the way you bank has changed, in just the last five or six years, we’ve seen a massive transformation across the country. And it’s not only in banking. How do you buy things? You buy them online, they get delivered to your front door, rather than you going to the shop. You know, the way we transfer money, the way we pay for goods and services. People are now using their mobile phone to make a payment. They’re using pay platforms like PayPal, and Apple Pay. Trying to actually stay ahead… I do think it’s moved faster than governments have moved.

“Corporate Australia’s got to be doing its best and investing in the best possible systems. But we as consumers, you know, have to also, in the same way, as once upon a time, you would have thought twice about carrying too much cash in your wallet. Now, you’ve got to think about, “am I going to click on that?” If it doesn’t look right, I’m gonna think about it twice.”

Anna Bligh

But I do think that there’s now a growing awareness, the Federal Government yesterday, announced funding for a new National Scams Centre, which frankly, it will take some time to get up and running. But it is overdue. We need something that brings telecommunications, online platforms, banks and law enforcement and intelligence agencies together, so that in real-time, they can be jumping on scams. I mean, what often happens is banks and other corporates and law enforcement agencies find a big scam, a criminal gang, running a business, really, it’s not a kid in a garage, these are people running criminal, organised, businesses – the police will stamp out one of them, and another one will start somewhere else. So it’s a constant investment by law enforcement, and by corporate Australia. But as we all move more and more and more of our lives online, it’s something government has got to be on top of.

Corporate Australia’s got to be doing its best and investing in the best possible systems. But we as consumers, you know, have to also, in the same way, as once upon a time, you would have thought twice about carrying too much cash in your wallet. Now, you’ve got to think about, “am I going to click on that?” If it doesn’t look right, I’m gonna think about it twice.

Ryk Goddard  And certainly make sure your big transactions are protected and you understand the protections around them. Anna Bligh, as Chief Executive of the Australian Banking Association, finally, cost of living and interest rates, are really threatening people’s financial security and way of life. What’s your position on the rising of interest rates? Do they need to go further?

“On the one hand, what Australian banks are seeing right now in their mortgage books is that most Australians are still able to meet their mortgage payments. But we know that every time those interest rates go up another notch, it gets harder for some people. Banks are very, very experienced. They have very highly skilled teams that work with customers that are having trouble. “

Anna Bligh

Anna Bligh  I’ll leave it to the Reserve Bank of Australia to make those decisions. But they do have a very clear job, and that’s to fight inflation. On the one hand, what Australian banks are seeing right now in their mortgage books is that most Australians are still able to meet their mortgage payments. But we know that every time those interest rates go up another notch, it gets harder for some people. Banks are very, very experienced. They have very highly skilled teams that work with customers that are having trouble. They’ve got very practical ways that they can help. They’ve dealt with these sorts of things for years… (i.e) if someone loses their job or there’s a death in the family. Helping people get through a period of where they can’t, for whatever reason, make those payments. So it does get harder for the bank if people leave it too late. And if anyone’s finding it really difficult right now, the best thing they can be doing is talking to their bank. They can defer payments for a period,  they can reduce payments, and they can consolidate loans.

Ryk Goddard Anna Bligh, Chief Executive of the Australian Banking Association, thank you so much. If you are struggling, get on the phone to your bank.


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