Phishing season: Online scams on the rise

Ryan Boyd
Phishing season: Online scams on the rise

Not only are scams becoming more common, but also more sophisticated and harder to spot.

While Westpac has systems in place to prevent hacks and other forms of theft, it is also important that you, the customer, know what to look out for because the scammers will try anything to get you to give them access to your banking.

The three main methods the criminals will attempt are phishing, phone scams, and credit card fraud. Here’s what you need to know about each and how to protect yourself.


Phishing and hoax emails

Phishing is a fraudulent attempt by a third party to steal your personal information, usually made through email.


How to spot a fake

First thing, if the email seems a bit unusual in any way, such as spelling mistakes, strange formatting, or asking for personal information, it’s likely to be fake.

However the scammers are getting very good at making the emails appear authentic, which is why you should never click on a link or download an attachment unless you know for certain it is the real deal.

Take a look at the below example of a phishing email. Can you spot the red flags?

Westpac Scam Alert


What’s wrong with it?

First is that the sender’s name (Westpac Bank NZ) looks legitimate, and they have included the Westpac red W logo.

However, they do not address the customer by name, using “Dear Customer” instead.

They have included a link in the email to a site that mimics Westpac’s online banking login page. This is done to gather the customer’s online banking details, allowing the fraudsters access to their online banking.

Finally, there is a vaguely threatening sentence about restricting access to online banking.

These are all common elements typically found in phishing emails.


What to do if you receive a phishing email

First of all:

  •     don’t click on the link contained in the email

  •     don’t reply to the email

  •     delete the email

  •     update and perform an anti-virus scan on your computer

  •     update and perform an anti-spyware scan on your computer

If it is a Westpac branded email, you can forward it to before deleting it.


Phone scams

Fraudsters don't only strike online. There's been an increase in phone scams where the caller claims to be from a reputable organisation (like the police, IRD, tech or telecom company) often offering a tax refund or to assist with a computer issue.

They then attempt to take control of, or access your computer.

Do not allow this under any circumstances; just hang up.

Also, be particularly vigilant if you’re asked to disclose any Online Banking sign-in details or install any apps or software. Don’t do it!


Card fraud

Card fraud occurs when someone obtains your credit card details and uses them over the phone or on the Internet to make purchases.

In extreme cases, a person can steal your identity and open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, get loans and even submit tax returns in your name.

You can detect card fraud by checking your statement regularly to see if there are charges for purchases you did not make.


You may not be aware that your card has been used fraudulently until:

  •     You receive your statement and there are charges for purchases you did not make

  •     Your bank’s Fraud Detection team advises you on unusual activity on your card and asks if the charges are yours.

Remember, an online banking fraud team will never ask you for confirmation of your security details or password. You should never disclose these to anyone.


What happens when there are fraudulent transactions on your card?

  •     Contact your bank as soon as you suspect fraud

  •     A stop will be placed on your card (and the card of any additional cardholders) and new cards will be issued.

  •     An investigation will begin and fraudulent transactions should be refunded (depending upon the case).


More information

Westpac’s Safety and security online webpage has information including how to report a Westpac targeted scam and how to keep yourself safe.

To stay on top of the latest scam trends, Netsafe is a fantastic resource. 

, , ,