Scam awareness sessions helping to prepare a safe transition to online banking

Community Bank of Wandin-Seville Branch Manager Jackie Butler. Picture: CALLUM LUDWIG

By Callum Ludwig

In the 2022-23 financial year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that 2.5 per cent of Australians, about 514,300 people, experienced a scam.

With scams only becoming more sophisticated such as by impersonating banks or loved ones, the importance of scam awareness only becomes more paramount.

The Community Bank of Wandin-Seville has been holding scam awareness sessions, including on Tuesday 26 March at the Seville Community House, and Branch Manager Jackie Butler said scams can have a huge impact on people’s lives.

“Of course it is monetary, but it’s also stress and anguish and anxiousness about online safety or talking to people over the phone and things like that and through the bank, unfortunately, we’ve seen a fair amount of losses, as every bank would have seen,” she said.

“We try and get it back for them as much as we can, but it just depends on the situation and what’s happening, we have got really good systems in place that detect fraudulent movements of account numbers and money, but it starts with giving customers more knowledge and more understanding of the system to protect themselves.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) National Anti Scam Centre and Scamwatch website has found that in 2024 alone, Australians have lost $55,278,856 to scams, with 6.9 per cent of the 45,103 scam reports having suffered a financial loss.

Ms Butler said it is important for people to be safe in the internet banking space.

“Our world is definitely turning digitized and so is our banking, so the majority of people are changing to a digitized platform,” she said.

“We know from a banking perspective we have customers coming in who have been the target of scams, have had issues with accessing internet banking or have been contacted by people pretending to be other people, a bank or an organization trying getting access to their accounts,”

“Online banking is safe but you’ve just got to take a few precautions.”

Around October 2023, scammers impersonated the Bendigo Bank by sending out emails marked Bendigo Bank images and branding where recipients were asked to verify or update accounts, with the link in the email taking them to a phishing website. Bendigo Bank and other banks don’t ask customers to login to their Internet Banking via a link sent in an email.

Ms Butler said if you have any doubts about a link, don’t click on it.

“Don’t follow what they’re asking you to do and instead contact the company or whoever is involved yourselves, making sure not to call any phone numbers in those emails as well,” she said.

“The other thing to think about is if you use one password for everything because they can’t remember them all, but if scammers or fraudsters get any access into your systems, they can go through and they’ll just put that password in there and it will open up everything,”

“In relation to business or corporate, when you’re paying invoices or individuals, even if you’ve paid them before, make sure that the account numbers are the same as previous and if there’s any difference, contact those organizations as well because we’re seeing a lot of those emails come through, which is unfortunate.”

In March this year alone, the ‘NASC Scamwatch’ X (formerly Twitter) page has shared alerts for scams pretending to be from Netflix, Qantas, PayID and Colonial First State or using sponsored social media ads and advertising caravans and secondhand cars to target people.

Ms Butler said despite needing to be careful, there’s huge benefits to online banking for customers.

“Because they’ve got access to their funds, they can move their funds around wherever they need to within minutes and we do have a lot of systems in place to protect you but we’ve also got other systems in place that you can engage to protect yourself as well,” she said.

“One of those is by having a card online, you can stop put stops on them straight away if you lose them or they’re stolen, or you can stop payments going internationally from your cards and accounts,”

“You can also stop payments to liquor stores or choose what products you want to be spending money on so your cards can’t be used in certain ways if it was stolen.”

Anyone interested in having Ms Butler and the Community Bank of Wandin-Seville to come host a scam awareness session can contact the bank directly at 5964 4595.