Westpac deploys anti-scam payment prompts in Australian first

Westpac Scam blocker payments

Westpac will integrate a new fraud detection system into its mobile and online payments platforms, designed to help customers detect scams before a real-time payment is initiated.

The feature, claimed by Westpac as an Australian banking first, warns customers using the bank’s online or mobile banking channels when they may be entering payment details tied to a scam.

Providing an added point of friction within the real-time payments function, the anti-fraud feature requires payees to answer a number of customised questions on the payment which can help the bank better assess scam risk.

“If customer responses suggest the payment is highly likely to be a scam, Westpac will not allow the payment to be processed,” the bank said.

Westpac Group chief executive Peter King said the questions will be “dynamic and tailored based on the circumstances of each payment”.

He added that examples of this questioning process have been implemented in banks overseas “with really successful results”.

“This is about helping customers spot potential red flags before any funds have actually been sent.”

As part of its 2022 Annual Report, Westpac reported that it had blocked more than 204,000 payments from suspect merchants, preventing an estimated $58 million in losses to fraudsters.

In addition to the questions feature, Westpac has also announced an upgrade to Verify, adding a new scam risk rating designed to help customers determine whether it is safe to proceed with a first-time payment.

First unveiled back in March this year, Verify alerts customers if there is a potential account name mismatch for payments to new BSB and account numbers, or when money is being transferred to an account Westpac has never transacted with before.

“The enhanced Westpac Verify capability adds another layer of security by alerting customers before a payment is made,” King said.

“This includes instances where the entered account name doesn’t match that of the receiving account, a common tactic employed by scammers who make you believe you’re sending money to a legitimate business, individual, or bank account they’ve said has been set up in your name.”