A sophisticated scam using new technology to con Australians out of millions of dollars is now targeting some ING bank customers.
Technology allowing scammers to impersonate the phone numbers of financial institutions in phone calls and text messages has already hit the big four banks, prompting urgent warnings.
Most of these scams work by appearing to genuinely be texts or calls from customers’ banks with an urgent message about a suspicious transaction or urgent threat.
Looking for a new job or job candidate? Post jobs and search for local talent on 7NEWS Jobs >>
The bank impersonation scams have stolen more than $20 million from Australian customers, targeting more than 14,000 of them — some of whom lost their entire life savings.
One ING customer shared on Facebook how she was recently targeted in the scam with a text and then a follow-up call from a number appearing as “MyING” in her phone”.
The text read: “We have detected unusual activity on your current acc. An online adviser will be contacting you shortly.”
The victim said in her post that a person called her from the number: “He rattled off a heap of my personal information and knew quite a bit”.
“Luckily, it’s an old transaction account which I keep absolutely nothing on. He ‘cancelled my card’ and ‘cancelled my access’ after confirming my info was up-to-date.”
Another text came through: “The agent you’re connected to has cancelled your current card and issued a replacement. This will be with you in 3-5 business days.”
But the victim realised “something about it didn’t sit right”. She called the ING scam line, which confirmed: “It was a sophisticated scam.”
“They are escalating it and taking it seriously,” she wrote on Facebook.
ING informed her that the incident highlights exactly why the bank does not call customers directly.
“They explained that if there is a suspicious transaction, they will send a message asking the customer to call,” she wrote.
‘They can be so convincing’
The Australian Consumer and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Catriona Lowe warns that knowing this alone is not enough to evade bank impersonation scams completely.
“If you receive an SMS with a telephone number to call, do not use it,” the Lowe said.
“Instead, call your bank direct on a number you have sourced yourself.
“Likewise, hang up if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank requesting you to transfer money to ‘keep it safe’.
“Ask for a reference number and call your bank back using contact details you have found independently.
“We are incredibly concerned about bank impersonation scams because they can be so convincing, they are very hard to detect.”
The new technology behind bank scams
The sophisticated ploys are examples of scammers using “spoofing” technology — software used to copy the phone number or sender ID of a business — to impersonate the banks.
“Both outgoing and incoming phone numbers can be spoofed,” the ACCC said.
“Scamwatch has seen examples where scammers send an SMS with the sender ID spoofed and tell the person to expect a phone call from their bank’s customer service.
“The scammer will then call the person on the spoofed bank telephone number.”
The average loss to bank scams is around $22,000, according to the ACCC.
However, some of the losses to bank scams have been astronomical.
“We know of a man who lost over $500,000 after receiving a call from someone claiming to be from a major bank’s security department, wanting to know if a payment had been authorised,” Lowe said.
“In another case, a man lost $38,000 after receiving a scam text message about a suspicious transaction. The scam text appeared in the same conversation thread as legitimate messages from his bank.
“He called the number in the text and was put through to a member of the banks’ fraud team. Unfortunately, it was an elaborate scam and he lost everything.”
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your .