‘Tis the scam season


Ubank’s Chief Product Officer, Andrew Morrison, provides his top tips on staying alert and scam-savvy this holiday season.

For many of us at this time of year, our focus has shifted to holiday gift-giving, finalising travel plans, and managing money coming in and out of our bank accounts. This activity also means it’s prime time for scammers to take advantage.

While scams are a year-round problem, statistics tell us that opportunistic criminals seize the chance to exploit us this time of year.

They don’t discriminate; Australians of every age, gender, and demographic are being flooded with scam lures via text messages, phone calls, emails, social media, and gaming platforms.

At ubank, many of our customers are between 18 to 35 years old. Even the more digitally savvy generations are seeing and experiencing contact from, and unfortunately falling victim to, scammers on these various channels.

What we’re seeing:

According to the ACCC, $3.1 billion was the amount Australians lost to scammers in 2022, up from around $1.8 billion in 2021. Further, 70 percent of Scamwatch reports were impersonation scams with criminals posing as a bank, government agency, well-known organisations or individuals.

We’re also seeing scammers become more sophisticated. Some popular holiday period scams include online shopping scams, flights and accommodation travel scams, and parcel delivery scams.

Banks like ubank have a crucial role in helping customers bank as safely as possible. We are investing heavily to combat fraud and scams and will continue to.

The actions we’re taking:

Ubank, like our parent company NAB, has stopped the use of links in unexpected texts to customers in an industry first to reduce the impact of scams. That’s why we’re ensuring our customers know that if they get an unexpected text message claiming to be from ubank, do not click on it; it’s likely a scam.

Cryptocurrency scams are one of the fastest-growing threats we see impacting our customers, with Australians losing more than $221 million to these scams in 2022. Customers who use these payment methods currently face a significantly higher risk of being scammed. This is why ubank is restricting transactions made to certain cryptocurrency exchanges to protect our customers from these scams.

We’ve strengthened the support from our Contact Centre, including a dedicated fraud line. Our average call wait times are only a few minutes. So, if customers get a suspicious call from someone claiming to be ubank, hang up and call our official phone number on our website.

We’ve also enhanced our app and digital functionality. For example, we use biometric technology and one-time passcodes. The ubank app also has ways customers can beef up security, stay alert to changes and activity, and be scam season ready. For example:

  • A gentle nudge: We’re encouraging our customers to enable push notifications to keep them alert to changes, transactions, and give them optional prompts to help them spend and save smarter.
  • A trusty new alert: Customers can choose for their ubank account to trust their usual devices or browsers for a smoother login experience. But when a new device or browser is trusted, we send our customers an alert to make sure they are notified immediately, to ensure there’s no unwanted guests.
  • The safer Pay: PayID lets customers link their email or mobile number to one of their ubank Spend or Save accounts, so they can be paid using details their friends and family already know. With PayID, people know it’s them they’re sending money to, making it a smoother and more secure way of making transactions.
  • Content warning: We’re seeing scammers become more and more sophisticated, and that’s why we’re educating our customers on the channels they’re on like TikTok and Instagram. We’re the most followed bank on social media, and our educational and ongoing “scam school” series has had more than 2.5 million views to-date.

Actions our customers can take:

Prevention is critical. Once a payment is sent to a scammer, it’s very hard for us to recover the money. That’s why we’re urging our customers to be curious, recognise a scam when they see it, ask questions, pause, and not feel pressured to make a payment.

  • Stop: Never give one-time passwords, PINs, or other credentials over the phone. Hang up and call your bank or someone that you’re speaking to on the official number found on their website. Remember, your money is safe while it’s in the bank. Once a payment is made, your money might be gone forever.
  • Think: Don’t click on SMS links. Ubank, like NAB, will never send links in unexpected messages. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. And, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Protect: Every minute counts. If you think you or your family member has been scammed, call the bank immediately.

This holiday season we’re also encouraging our customers to speak to their friends and loved ones about scams – all of us have either fallen victim or had a near miss, so sharing stories and information is another way we can protect ourselves and each other and stay scam-savvy.

What to do if you’ve been scammed:

Contact us: If you, or someone you know, is a ubank customer and has been scammed (or thinks you’ve been scammed), call us immediately on 13 30 80. For more information visit our website.

Report the scam: Report the scam via Scamwatch. Scamwatch provides information to consumers about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

Change your passwords and PINs: Do this straight away if you suspect your security has been compromised. Change these regularly anyway as a preventative measure.

Seek support: Contact Idcare, Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber support service, on 1800 595 160.