NAB removes links from text messages to foil scammers

What to do if you think you've been scammed

Source: The New Daily

One of the country’s biggest banks is removing links from text messages to customers, as it cracks down on escalating financial scams.

National Australia Bank said the change was well underway, with all links in unexpected text messages to be gone by the end of July.

“Our aim is to make it as simple as we can for customers to know whether a message from NAB is legitimate,” NAB chief executive Ross McEwan said

“My advice is don’t click on a link. If you get an unexpected text message that looks like it’s from NAB and it contains a link, don’t click on it.

“We want to make it as hard as possible for these criminals to steal money from hard-working Australians.”

NAB’s move comes as Australians continue to lose millions to bank impersonation scams.

Victims are duped into handing over their hard-earned dollars through calls that look like they come from a bank’s legitimate phone number, or through tricky texts that impersonate their bank.

The four big banks and many other financial institutions are common targets.

Scamwatch said earlier this year it received 14,603 reports of bank impersonation scams in 2022, resulting in more than $20 million in losses. Total losses to all reported phone and text scams in 2022 were estimated at more than $169 million.

NAB said it had 64 projects underway to try to tackle the global spam epidemic.

It is also working with telecommunications providers to stop criminals infiltrating phone numbers and spoofing scams.

“The initiative had immediate impact and has seen a 29 per cent reduction in reports of NAB-branded spoofing scams this year,” the bank said.

It said it NAB sent 112 million text messages to customers last year. Many included links intending to help notify customers of issues such as overdrawn accounts or when a new card had been posted.

Under the changes announced on Friday, links in unexpected texts have been replaced with advice directing customers to the bank’s website, to call the bank, or head to internet banking or the NAB app.

Customers will still receive links in some texts from individual NAB representatives. NAB said these included instances such as domestic violence or hardship support for a vulnerable customer, where other channels of communication may not be possible or appropriate.

Mr McEwan said a “Team Australia” approach across business sectors, government and the community was urgently needed to tackle scams.

“We welcome the government’s focus in this area through initiatives like the establishment of the National Anti-Scam Centre and a new SMS registry. Singapore has a similar SMS registry and it’s proved an important step, so I look forward to seeing it implemented here in Australia,” Mr McEwan said.

“We’ve already seen positive results from the action we’ve taken on spoofing and by introducing proactive payments alerts to digital banking, and we won’t stop there.”

Mr McEwan said NAB was doing what it could, but scammers were part of transnational, organised crime gangs – “and will always look for new ways to rip people off”.

“That’s why we continue to encourage all Australians to stay alert, curious and educated,” he said.

Customers who think they have been scammed should contact their bank and Scamwatch immediately.

Topics: Financial scams, National Australia Bank
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