Heritage CEO urges people to be wary of increasingly savvy scammers

30 September 2022

Heritage Bank CEO Peter Lock is urging people to review their digital security measures and lock their digital doors and windows, as criminals continue to develop increasingly sophisticated measures to target our savings.

Within the past week, telecommunications giant Optus has been hit by a major cyber attack, while Westpac revealed details of scammers phoning customers, posing as a staff member, in a bid to access their account. The scammers had used “spoofing” software to make it appear that the calls were coming from a legitimate Westpac number.

Mr Lock said scammers are becoming more sophisticated and are using increasingly convincing methods to defraud Australians.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scam Watch website reveals Australians have lost more than $350 million from nearly 147,000 reported cases of fraudulent activity already in 2022.

To counter that illegal activity, Heritage has set up a specialist anti-fraud team within the bank, and is putting in place additional security measures.

Mr Lock said it was vital that people also took proactive steps to assess their personal digital security and to reinforce it, to keep their personal details and money safe.

“To keep our homes safe, we all know that you need to lock doors and windows. When it comes to protecting our personal information online and digital security, it is a little more complicated, but the same principles apply,” Mr Lock said.

“Heritage goes to considerable lengths to protect the data and money of our members, including stringent information security practises, having a transaction monitoring system in place 24/7, using Visa Advanced Authorisation and Risk Manager to block suspect transactions, and investing significant resources into our fraud management team.

“It’s also important that everyone takes precautions individually to ensure the security of their money, so I encourage people to review their personal digital security measures to protect themselves from falling victim to fraudulent activity.”

Heritage reports it has encountered confirmed cases of impersonation scams recently where fraudsters phone customers pretending to be from their bank’s fraud department stating their account is at risk.

The scammers have enough of their personal details to make people think the call is legitimate, then they request customers transfer their money to a ‘safe account’ and share the One Time Password used to authorise the transaction.

Heritage is warning customers to be wary of criminal imposters.

“This type of scam has been around for a while and it looks like scammers have revived it,” Heritage Bank’s Manager – Group Fraud Management Mary Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s important to know that Heritage staff do legitimately contact customers if there is suspected fraudulent activity on their account, but we will never ask you to transfer money or reveal a One Time Password.

“If any customers are concerned about the security of their accounts, they should phone our 24/7 contact centre immediately on 13 14 22.

“Scammers are becoming increasingly creative in their fraudulent behaviour and it is crucial people are savvy when it comes to their evolving methods.”

Heritage provides updates to customers on the latest scam warnings at www.heritage.com.au/scamalerts. People can also report scams to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission at www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam.

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