New scam intelligence sharing helps CBA and Vodafone combat SMS scams

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and Vodafone have announced a new intelligence sharing pilot designed to help protect customers from rising SMS scams. 

The pilot sees Vodafone and CBA sharing SMS scam-related intelligence in near real-time, allowing the telco to identify and disrupt scammers, while the bank may implement proactive blocks on suspected fraudulent payments.

James Roberts, General Manager of Group Fraud at CBA, says there are increased risks at this busy time of year as we head into the festive season.

“Our latest data shows that fraudulent text and email messages are the number one scam trend impacting our customers. This phenomenon, otherwise known as ‘phishing’, involves fraudsters tricking unsuspecting customers to click on an embedded link and share their online banking and card details, as well as personal information.

“Not only are scammers becoming increasingly sophisticated, but we tend to see an uptick in attempted and successful scams at certain times of the year, such as the festive season. With this heightened risk, we recommend people remain alert for potential scams, including those delivered via SMS with messages imitating major courier or postal companies.

“This pilot and timely intelligence sharing between CommBank and Vodafone allows us to proactively investigate and analyse the latest SMS scams in near real-time to ultimately help disrupt, detect and proactively block fraudulent payments.

The announcement comes as the latest scam statistics published by Australia’s National Anti-Scam Centre in November 2023 show text messages as the most popular delivery method used by fraudsters so far this year, with more than $24.5m being lost to this type of scam so far this year.1

Simone Sant, General Counsel and General Manager Corporate Security at Vodafone said: “Keeping Australians safe and secure is a key priority at Vodafone. It is the reason why in 2020 Vodafone set up a cross-industry fraud forum, which still meets regularly today. This forum brings together banks, telcos, postal services, law enforcement and regulators to work together to combat scams.

“Working with industry leaders like Commonwealth Bank allows us to share information and resources to help protect our customers and empower thousands of Australians to hang up on scammers.”  

Mr Roberts says safety and security is a significant priority for CBA and the bank is highly focused on keeping its customers safe.

“We encourage people to remain cautious and to stop, check and reject. If you think you have been a victim of a fraud or scam, contact your bank immediately.”

Ms Sant said: “This year alone, Vodafone has blocked more the 67.8 million SMS scams from reaching Australians. Our analysis shows fraudsters are scheming up new ways to scam customers out of their hard-earned cash in the lead up to the holidays season with Vodafone blocking more than 17.6 million SMS scams in September and October, a 45 per cent year-on-year increase.”

Mr Roberts said: “CommBank has invested about $750m to help protect and defend our customers from cyber security threats, financial crime, and fraud and scams. By collaborating closely with Vodafone, we’re focused on helping to minimise financial harm associated with the ever-evolving threat of SMS scams.”

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