As previously reported, following a record year for consumer scam losses, regulators, have stepped up their focus on scam prevention. Likewise, the government and the Australian Banking Association (ABA) have announced new anti-scam measures (see: Combatting online scams: Government and the banking sector announce new measures).

This week, a coalition of banks, led by the Australian Banking Association and the Customer Owned Banking Association, have announced a new 'Scam Safe Accord' aimed at delivering 'a higher standard of protection for customers and put scammers out of business in Australia'.

Under the 'Accord' which applies to all ABA and COBA member organisations, banks will:

  • Invest $100 million to roll out 'confirmation of payee' technology over 2024 and 2025 – the purpose of this measure is essentially to enable people to confirm that they are transferring money to the intended recipient.
  • 'Adopt further technology and controls to help prevent identity fraud, including major banks using at least one biometric check [eg a check of a customers' face or finger print] for new individual customers opening accounts online by the end of 2024'
  • Introduce additional warnings and payment delays to protect customers from falling victim to scams by the end of 2024
  • Join the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange to be ready 'to share intel to fight scams' from mid-2024
  • Join the Fraud Reporting Exchange to 'help customer recover money faster' over 2024-25
  • Introduce limits on payments to 'high-risk channels' eg crypto currency platforms to protect customers from potential theft
  • Implement an Anti-Scams strategy to 'enhance oversight of…scams detection and response'.

The government, consumer advocates have welcomed the Accord

In a statement Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones described the Accord as a 'proactive step up' for the sector which will complement government-led initiatives already in place, as well as planned new initiatives (eg the planned new anti-scam industry codes).

The Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) has also welcomed the measures, and in particular the confirmation of payee measure, as 'long overdue'. CALC has called on other sectors to follow the example set by the banking sector. The statement also reiterates CALC's previous calls for the government to introduce mandatory reimbursement of customers' money lost to scams.