It seems scammers are getting better every day at appearing legitimate. A relatively recent technique involves scammers impersonating banks by making calls to customers that appear to be genuine but are designed to steal your money.

Find out how to spot and guard against such scams.

Perhaps it has happened to you. You receive a call from your bank. It seems legitimate because the caller wants to verify a suspicious transaction, and they use the same language your bank fraud team normally uses.

Something doesn’t seem quite right, though. The caller seems to be asking a lot of detailed questions about your identity and banking habits – these are not things BCU Bank will ask you to do.

You’re right to be wary. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch has received a growing number of reports of Australians losing their life savings to highly sophisticated impersonation scams after receiving phone calls and texts that appear to be from their bank or financial institution.

Fraudsters are using new technology to trick their targets, by making the call appear to come from the bank’s legitimate phone number or by sending a text that appears in the same conversation thread as genuine bank messages.

Scamwatch received more than 14,000 reports about bank impersonation scams in 2022, resulting in more than $20 million in losses.

How to spot a bank impersonation scam

ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said communications from bank impersonation scammers often have a sense of urgency to them, such as checking a suspected transaction, authorising a payment to a frozen account, or moving money.

“It is critical to remember that no matter how legitimate the call or message seems, a bank won’t ask you to urgently transfer funds,” Catriona said.

Signs you may be dealing with a bank impersonation scammer include:

  • The caller seems to want to keep you on the phone for longer than necessary to verify a transaction.
  • The caller is asking you an excessive number of identification questions.
  • The caller sends multiple codes to your phone and puts pressure on you to provide the codes quickly, or is distracting you so you can’t take time to read the messages on the SMS codes.
  • The caller is telling you to transfer money to a different account to “keep it safe” or for “further investigation”. This is not standard procedure for a bank.

What to do if you suspect you are being scammed

If you feel that something is not quite right about a message or phone call:

Stop – Take your time before giving any money or personal information away.

Think – Ask yourself if the message or call could be fake.

Verify – Advise the caller you will hang up and call them back via a number that you know is legitimate.

Protect – Act quickly if something feels wrong. Contact us immediately on 1300 228 228. If you are unable to reach us, contact our out of hours fraud monitoring service on 1300 705 750.

It’s also important to never provide your online banking passwords, PIN, or secure One Time Passcodes to anyone who has contacted you over the phone or where you have not initiated the call.

Knowing that these scams exist is a major step toward keeping your accounts safe.

If you think you’ve been scammed call us immediately on 1300 228 228.

Important information

Banking and Credit products issued by Police & Nurses Limited (BCU) ABN 69 087 651 876 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240701. Any advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Read the relevant Product Terms and Condition, before acquiring this product in considering and deciding whether it is right for you. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for products is available on request. Lending criteria, terms & conditions, fees & charges apply.