Banks issue fraud alert

26 April 2016, 12:00AM

Members of the public need to be increasingly diligent with their personal bank account details.

So warns the Central Bank of Samoa’s Governor, Maiava Atalina Enari, and the C.E.O. of the ANZ Bank in Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands, Matt Fisher, in a joint statement.

Issued yesterday, alerting that incidences of money transfer scams and other such fraudulent activities appear to be on the rise in Samoa and across the region.

With money transfer scams, customers are tricked into receiving money into their accounts from fraudsters overseas, encouraged to withdraw the money, keep a percentage of this as their so-called payment, and transfer the rest of the cash overseas using other means.  

While customers may be none-the-wiser, they are in effect taking part in sophisticated money laundering scams orchestrated by criminals. 

This is a serious criminal offence and the Central Bank in collaboration with ANZ Bank and other commercial banks will not hesitate in disseminating these types of activities to the law enforcement agencies for further investigation and possibly prosecution. 

Fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated, but there are steps that customers can take to protect themselves from becoming a victim. 

The best line of defence is to be diligent about safeguarding personal bank account details. 

Internet banking usernames and passwords, credit and debit card Personal Identification Numbers [PINs] and any information related to customers' personal bank accounts should never be shared. 

“We would also urge customers to regularly change their Internet banking passwords and card PINs, starting today. Monitor your account. Keep an eye on your transactions and if you see anything you haven’t authorised, contact your bank immediately,” the statement says. 

“Protect access to your computer and mobile devices. If you’re not careful, criminals may be able to get hold of your personal information and bank accounts. 

“If you receive an email from anyone you do not recognise or do not know, do not open it! Emails can be disguised to look legitimate. If you have any suspicions, contact the person or organisation it appears to have come from to check its authenticity.

“If customers think they might have been the victim of fraud, they should contact their bank or the Central Bank of Samoa as soon as possible.

“In cases where customers have themselves taken actions to assist criminals in conducting the fraud, such as willingly sharing their bank account information or clicking on compromised online links, ANZ will not be able to refund their money.

“As a temporary precautionary measure, ANZ has advised that they will be reducing their ATM and Internet Banking transactions limit to SAT$1,000 to help protect and minimise losses to its customers. 

“If you would like to know more about this change please contact the ANZ Call Centre team on 69999 or the nearest ANZ branch.

What to avoid:

Fraud precautions 

- Do not share your Internet banking usernames and passwords, credit and debit card PINs

- Regularly change your Internet banking password and card PINs starting today

- Contact your bank immediately if you see anything in your bank statement that you haven’t authorised

- Protect access to your computer and mobile devices

- Don’t open emails or Facebook friend requests from senders you don’t recognise. 

26 April 2016, 12:00AM

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