Westpac to automatically block scam purchases

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Westpac to automatically block scam purchases

Customers back away when warned.

Westpac has implemented new automatic transaction safety measures to help stop its customers falling for online scams.

Following a successful trial launched last year, the national bank will now automatically stop transactions made via online card payments it deems a scam, and alert customers via SMS.

It works for customers making purchases through their Westpac credit or debit card and third-party mobile wallet providers.

The bank says its detection technology can identify transaction patterns, merchant behaviours and features, as well as previous customer reports, to add and remove merchants from its high-risk lists.

Westpac is only blocking registered overseas merchants that most commonly sell diet pills, nutrient supplements, online dating and music subscriptions or business support services.

Westpac chief executive consumer and business banking Chris de Bruin said the bank is “seeing more overseas retailers targeting Australians with false advertising for popular products like diet pills, supplements, dating subscriptions and business services”.

“Over the past two months, we have stopped 69,000 customers losing more than $6 million through our scam blocks, with customers saving an average of $87”, de Bruin said.

“Through expanding this to more merchants, our modelling predicts we will stop an additional 2,000 customers each day losing an estimated $120 million annually to dodgy overseas retailers,” said de Bruin

Westpac first piloted the its real-time scam block last year by selecting online stores making unfounded marketing claims, with a focus on diet pill retailers.

Through the trial Westpac blocked more than 11,000 potential scams for 4000 customers, saving more than $1.2 million.

Since January this year, the blocks have been rolled-out to further online retailers, saving customers around $6 million.

Westpac’s head of fraud Ben Young said the bank wants to “put a stop to online scams” through blocking misleading retailers “selling or duping Aussies into handing over money for products they’ll never receive”.

“The technology adds another layer of security for our customers shopping online and intervenes when they are making a purchase with a suspect retailer.

“The new capability builds on our existing 24/7 fraud detection systems which focus on preventing transactions on stolen or copied cards.

“While scams are getting more sophisticated, so are the banks at detecting them, and we want scammers to know we are watching and taking action to protect our customers,” said Young.

Customers are able to contact Westpac if they still wish to proceed with the payment, however the bank has found so far found 99 percent of cases chose not to go through with the purchase.

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