Back in 2015, Daniel Marin was offered a unique opportunity – to be part of a new team at NAB to tackle scams.
The team would consist of just three people. It would be known as the anti-scam team and no other Australian bank had one.
Scams were an emerging problem in Australia in 2015.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams Report 2015, over 105, 000 Australians reported scams, with $85 million in reported losses.
This figure has increased by over 3,000% in the last decade to $3.1 billion.
When Daniel joined the team, he had been with NAB for about six years, starting in the call centre and then working his way up while completing a university degree in Business and Marketing to a role in what we now call the Digital Fraud & Scams team.
“The opportunity came up around an emerging trend of fraud and scams,” Daniel said.
“The scam situation was one no other big bank in Australia had catered for at the time.”
“We recognised an opportunity in this space to support customers, and developed the anti-scam team in Fraud Operations. We were the first bank to introduce a national anti-scam team over eight years ago.”
The evolution of scams
Back then, dating and romance scams made the bulk of the losses nationwide, with over $25 million reported lost to the ACCC.
“The majority (of cases) were around romance scams,” Daniel said.
“Goods and services scams were also being seen as social media came into the mix, and customers were letting us know they weren’t receiving what they’d paid for.”
Almost a decade later, romance scams still appear in the top five most reported scams targeting Australians. Last year, remote access scams and investment scams made up the two most common scams targeting individuals.
“At this time of year many people are purchasing presents online, waiting for parcels and often sending and receiving payments as gifts, and scammers know this and can make anyone their target,” Daniel said.
But it was the romance scam stories that left an indelible mark on Daniel all those years ago.
“When you are speaking with customers on the phone who have been vulnerable and gone through a difficult time, and then they’ve fallen into a romance scam and sent their entire life savings overseas and there is very little chance of us recovering their money… I vividly remember conversations I had with customers in this situation, and how I wanted to help,” Daniel said.
A lot has changed in the anti-scam team since then.
Initially, the team was focused on trying to recover and trace funds for customers who would report a scam, but now it is actively focused on preventing scams before they happen.
“Every day we are seeing scammers directly targeting people through texts, emails, phone calls, computer messages and other sneaky tactics,” he said.
“Scammers are constantly developing new ways to steal your details and hard-earned money, so we continue to work hard to keep Australians safe, the best defence is being educated and alert.”
Tackling scams together
NAB has introduced a number of initiatives across the bank in the last 12 months to help prevent scam activity, such as payment alerts in the NAB app and Internet banking, and removing links from text messages. It is a tough ask to stay a step ahead of the criminals.
“It is a bigger problem than any one bank, or any one organisation,” Daniel said.
Daniel said recognising the red flags of scams could help stop the crime.
“My top tip for seeing through scams is knowing that NAB will never ask you to transfer money to another account to keep it safe,” he said.
“If you’re unsure something is legitimate, stop, think about your options, and protect yourself by running extra checks on the caller or sender before you respond. Your money is safe while it is in your account.”
“If you think you have been scammed, call your bank immediately and report the incident.”
Top tips for customers
- NAB will never ask you to confirm, update or disclose personal or banking details via a link in a text
- NAB will never ask you to click a link to log in to Internet Banking or NAB Connect.
- NAB will never ask you to transfer money into another account to keep it safe.
- NAB will never ask you for access to your computer or online bank accounts.
NAB operates 24/7 customer account monitoring for signs of suspicious activity and has added more than 50 dedicated scam and fraud team members since October 2022 so that customers can speak with someone faster. Free monthly webinars are available to all Australians, and the bank offers free and discounted antivirus software offers from leading providers for customers.