Banking industry wants police, GSCB, social media firms to support Anti-Scam Centre

6:05 pm on 15 April 2024

(File photo.) Photo: 123RF

The banking industry is calling on the government for resources and legal backing for a national Anti-Scam Centre to counter financial scams and consumer losses.

The Banking Association has written to Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, Andrew Bayly, in response to a select committee report on banks' processes around consumer protections against scams.

Association chief executive Roger Beaumont said banks had already made progress on setting up a national Anti-Scam Centre (ASC).

"Banks have got the ball rolling with the Anti-Scam Centre by targeting mule bank accounts, which are used by criminals to move stolen money.

"To take the centre to the next level, we're initially asking the government for operational support by involving the police and other relevant agencies."

Beaumont said a key priority was a confirmation of payee service, which would allow those making an online payment from one bank account to another to check the name of the account they were paying into, to make sure of the identity of the person or company being paid.

He said such a service needed an industry-wide system to allow the matching of names and accounts, protection of consumer confidentiality, and changes to banking apps and mobile platforms.

The industry was investigating whether it could design its own system or find a local or overseas supplier, and hoped to have a working system in place by the end of the year.

But it needed changes to the banking code of practice, as well as support from government and industry agencies including police, the Government Security Communications Bureau, telecommunications, search engines and social media companies.

"To truly strengthen New Zealand's scam defences, everyone in the ecosystem needs to step up ... Banks can't protect New Zealanders on their own."

He said banks were also reviewing its voluntary scheme to reimburse victims of scams against international best practice, and would look at potential changes.

Beaumont said increased action at the end of last year resulted in a significant drop in the amount of losses due to scams.

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