Australians could be in line to save millions of dollars, with an Australian bank launching its first scam protection trial targeting illusive cryptocurrencies.
Westpac hopes the venture, which it says will protect customers from some cryptocurrency payments, will reduce “devastating” losses from scams.
Investment scams currently account for about half of all scam-related losses, according to Westpac’s latest data.
A third of all scams are transferred directly to a cryptocurrency exchange, where they are almost impossible to track.
Westpac Group technology executive Scott Collary said the new security measures could save customers millions of dollars.
“Digital exchanges have a legitimate role to play in the financial ecosystem,” Mr Collary said.
“But since the rise of digital currency, we’ve noticed scammers are increasingly using overseas exchanges.
“Often our customers only discover they’ve been scammed after the money has left the country, making recovery extremely difficult.”
A phased trial of the new protection blocks will be rolled out throughout late May.
They join a raft of recent initiatives including Westpac Verify, which alerts customers if there is a potential account name mismatch for some payments to a new BSB and account number, or when money is sent to an account which Westpac has never transacted with before.
Currently, Westpac’s scam and fraud teams claim to detect more than 60 per cent of attempted scams.
According to consumer advocacy group Choice, cryptocurrency scams have cost Australians more than $129 million.
More than 12,000 reports were made to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission in 2021 alone.
Crypto-scammers’ tricks have also continued to evolve, including the introduction of fake apps and ATO messages.
Investment scam “red flags” include fake social media ads, websites, and documents, as well as spoofing software.
Scammers might also know personal information not otherwise disclosed, or might want the target to do something while on the phone.