Australian bank Westpac has begun its concentrated efforts on blocking customer overseas transactions they deem to be ‘high risk’ of scam payments. 

Online card payments which are detected as a scam by Westpac will automatically be blocked, with the customer receiving an SMS to notify them. Customers do have the option to call the Westpac scam team to have their transaction processed if they believe it to be legitimate. 

But according to Westpac, 99% of these payments do not happen. This is due to the Australian bank doubling down on its efforts to prevent scam and fraud payments occurring from January onwards. 

Having trialed the new scam detection system last year, Westpac found that more than 11,000 potential scam payments were blocked, saving more than $1.2 million in the process. 

“With our research showing these scams are costing Australians hundreds of millions each year, we’re ramping-up our investment in technologies which will help detect scams and prevent customers getting swindled,” states Chris de Bruin, Chief Executive Consumer & Business Banking at Westpac. 

“Online shopping scams are on the rise and we’re seeing more overseas retailers targeting Australians with false advertising for popular products like diet pills, supplements, dating subscriptions and business services.” 

Using their technology, Westpac analyses customer transaction patterns and monitors the attributes of overseas merchants. Payments that appear to be ‘out of the ordinary’ or for a false product will be highlighted by Westpac’s software and will ultimately be blocked. 

De Bruin has noted that over the past two months, Westpac has stopped “69,000 customers losing more than $6 million through scam blocks, with customers saving an average of $87”. 

Ben Young, Head of Fraud at Westpac, added: “The technology adds another layer of security for our customers shopping online and intervenes when they are making a purchase with a suspect retailer. 

“The new capability builds on our existing 24/7 fraud detection systems which focus on preventing transactions on stolen or copied cards.”