Westpac is working with Optus and “other telco partners” to prevent scammers from using call spoofing to impersonate the bank.
The bank said today that it had “worked with Optus to become the first private Australian business to block calls from scammers impersonating the bank”.
“More than 94,000 Westpac phone numbers have now been added to a ‘do not originate’ list, which will prevent scammers from impersonating Westpac numbers,” the ‘big four’ bank said in a statement.
“The list is also shared with other carriers to extend the protection across different networks.”
As the Australian Communications and Media Authority explains, call spoofing refers to a scammer disguising their identity by displaying an Australian number, making it more likely a victim will answer their call.
The bank’s head of fraud Ben Young added that to combat the increasing volume and sophistication of scams, “we’re working with Optus and other telco partners to apply blocks that will now stop scammers from being able to use call spoofing software and impersonate calls using Westpac’s number.”
He said that scam reports were up 33 percent in July this year compared to a year ago.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in cases where scammers are using software to mask their phone number with the number of a known business,” Young said.
“These scams are incredibly challenging to detect because from the customer’s perspective, they appear to be getting a call from say Westpac, when in fact, it’s a scammer posing as a member of our fraud team calling from a completely different number.”
Young added that Westpac would take additional actions “over the coming months”, including by “increasing scam specialists by 50 percent” – the bank did not say how many it had now – and “launching new digital chat capabilities to enable branch staff to connect directly with Westpac’s scam team.”