CBA launches new scam prevention measures

AFCA welcomes major bank's innovative tech

CBA launches new scam prevention measures

Following a surge in financial scams in recent months, Australia’s biggest bank has moved to upgrade its scam prevention, detection and customer support strategy with enhanced technology.

The Commonwealth Bank announced on February 2 a range of anti-scam initiatives including what it says is an Australian banking industry first – NameCheck technology for money transfers, as well as new caller verification via the CommBank app.

CBA also released new research revealing that Australians are more concerned about scams than four months ago and that one in four believe scammers contact them at least six times a week.

“Scammers are attempting to cause harm to our customers and the community every day and we are working hard to utilise our technology and customer insights to help keep their hard-earned money safe,” CBA group executive retail banking Angus Sullivan (pictured above left) said.

NameCheck technology helps prevent scams

The major bank said its industry-first NameCheck technology would give customers an indication of whether the name and account details they entered look right. 

Launching in late March, CBA said the technology can help reduce false billing scams – known as business email compromise – as well as mistaken payments. NameCheck will be available on the CommBank app, NetBank and CommBiz.

“As Australia’s biggest bank, we have been able to apply unique technology and advanced algorithms to our data on recipient account names which gives customers making first-time payments a view of the likelihood that the name and account details match,” Sullivan said.

It also prompts them on steps they can take to help ensure they are sending their money to the correct account, he said.

“When they transfer money online many people assume the intended recipient’s account name is checked as well as the BSB and account number, but in most cases this is not possible. We now have the data and technology to improve this.”

New tech verifies for customers that CBA is calling

CBA has also launched in-app caller verification technology known as CallerCheck to give customers peace of mind that CBA is genuinely contacting them. It allows CBA staff to trigger a notification to the customer’s CommBank app verifying the call is from the bank, so the customer can log in and verify their identity in-app, removing the need to provide personal information over the phone.

“Across all industries, scammers are impersonating organisations asking for personal information,” Sullivan said. “Prior to CallerCheck there was no easy way for a customer to verify if they were genuinely speaking to the bank. CallerCheck gives customers the confidence that our call is genuine and can be confirmed in real time in the safe and controlled environment of the CommBank app.”

Cyber and data security has been a high priority for CBA with chairman Paul O’Malley telling investors at its October AGM last year how the bank was safeguarding data.

CBA’s new security measures follow a number of recent moves the bank has made to protect customers from  scams, including Behavioural Security technology announced last year, designed to detect suspicious and unusual behaviour.

It is also running a national awareness-building campaign called CommBank Safe – part of a broad, longer-term initiative to raise awareness and help protect Australians from scams.

Findings from the lates CBA Scams Community Survey include:

  • Over the past four months, 29% of people are much more concerned about scams, while a quarter (26%) are a little more concerned
  • Almost two thirds (63%) are more cautious about answering calls from unrecognised numbers
  • 27% report being contacted at least six times a week, with 12% of those being contacted more than 10 times a week

AFCA welcomes CBA’s new security measures

Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority has welcomed new banking initiatives, such as that announced by CBA, that “seek to address the scourge of scams”.

“We see every day, in our work with consumers and banks, the devastating impact scams can have on people,” AFCA chief ombudsman and chief executive David Locke (pictured above right) said. “We welcome any initiatives by banks to seek to protect their customers, including the innovative use of technology.”

Locke said in 2021-22, AFCA received 4,131 complaints in relation to scams, an average of around 340 a month. That was up 28 per cent on the previous year. In the current financial year, this has increased to an average of 400 scam-related complaints a month.

“It’s not just the volume of complaints involving scams that is increasing, but also the sums involved,” Locke said. “People are losing home deposits and retirement savings. We know that vulnerable people can be just as devastated by the loss of money they’d set aside for bills. This mustn’t continue, and we encourage all banks to consider what further steps they can take.”

AFCA would continue to engage with industry, consumer groups and regulators, sharing its complaints data and insights, in the joint effort to reduce scam transactions.