Beware of Online Bank Robbers

July 6, 2016

The world continues to see an increase in fraudulent transactions with credit card hackers targeting banks using internet. This trend is particularly worrying as more and more people are choosing the convenience of online banking. 

Financial service providers make their systems as secure as possible but hackers and certain technological hiccups give rise to fraud where consumers’ passwords or account details are stolen.

With online transactions, money is represented in the form of electronic records of ownership, which means online bank robbers can steal more money, in less time, than by stealing literal currency and these hackers don’t even need a getaway car.

Last month, an ANZ customer claimed $10,000 was used from his credit card in Saudi Arabia while another said $2, 000 was used from his card in Ukraine.  This involved some foreign nationals who obtained card details by fraudulent means.

Here at home, the banks are taking steps to protect its customers from e-criminals.  ANZ had blocked all transactions done with or through overseas merchants with the exception of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji-based merchants, effective immediately after the credit card scam early this year. Westpac is also investing in systems that have chip cards to prevent the scammers from carrying out fraudulent activities.  The banks are advising customers travelling overseas and intending to use their Visa Debit /Credit Card or AMEX card, to contact the banks directly with crucial information such as the contact details while overseas, i.e. mobile/land line phone numbers, email address, country or destination and duration.

Early this month, media reports showed that Android users who utilise their phone to access the National Australia Bank, Commonwealth, Westpac and ANZ banks could be at risk from one of the more sophisticated Malware instances to be discovered to date. Scammers have set up fake sites which look identical to dozens of Australian and New Zealand banking home pages.

This virus infects devices and hides from the user, waiting for the moment when a user opens the banking apps. A fake login screen comes up on the phone to capture the users’ private details. It is designed to look like login screens for various popular and distinguished applications like PayPal, Skype, WhatsApp and some several Google services.

ESET security was the company which detected the malware. The firm said the malware affected the devices by imitating Adobe Flash Player, which is required to play streaming videos. It requests for administrator rights and starts checking for installed banking applications and then reports back to the hackers so that it can start inserting the fake login screen.

This can be damaging as it can empty the banks account but this certainly does not mean that using internet to bank or shop is still safe so long as consumers take precautions and know what to do if they notice any suspicious activity. Customers rightly expect high levels of security when they are banking online. Banks are continually developing their systems to ensure consumers are as secure as possible from fraudsters.

Anyone who is doing their banking online would be wise to check their account balance by going to an ATM. If you have access to a second computer, you may want to check your account activity and balances from that computer. Uninfected computers will show accurate account information including any fraudulent transactions. If you get a strange text message you think is from your bank, asking you to verify your account? Don’t open it. It could be trouble!

In short – refrain from opening SMS or emails from unknown or suspicious sources; never open hyperlinks in text messages; check the authenticity of a website that requests your user credentials; don’t reuse the same login credentials on any web service and where available, use two-factor authentication on your accounts.

If you find that you have been victimized by the virus, then you should report the problem to your bank immediately. And regardless of whether or not you have been impacted by the virus, never click on links in e-mail messages from unknown sources and always make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date.