Westpac is urging customers to be extra careful after a recent spike in scam activity, warning scammers are becoming more sophisticated and even harder to detect - with impersonation scams among the most common.

In an attempt to combat these scams, Westpac has worked with Optus to become the first private Australian business to block calls from scammers impersonating the bank.

More than 94,000 Westpac phone numbers have now been added to a ‘Do Not Originate’ list, preventing scammers from impersonating Westpac numbers.

The list has also been shared with other carriers to extend the protection across different networks.

Westpac Head of Fraud Ben Young said the major bank has seen a significant increase in cases where scammers are using software to mask their phone number with the number of a known business.

"This is a commonly employed tactic in impersonation scams known as 'call spoofing'," Mr Young said.

"These scams are incredibly challenging to detect because from the customer’s perspective, they appear to be getting a call from say Westpac, when in fact, it’s a scammer posing as a member of our fraud team calling from a completely different number.

"The scammer will then use personal information they’ve fraudulently obtained, like quoting the customer’s name or last few digits of their credit card, to convince them the call is genuine."

Mr Young noted that scammers are not only impersonating banks.

"We are seeing a variety of cases where scammers appear to be calling from telco or energy providers, online retailers, government organisations, or even pretending to be family members," 

"To combat these scams, we’re working with Optus and other telco partners to apply blocks that will now stop scammers from being able to use call spoofing software and impersonate calls using Westpac’s number."


Westpac is rolling out additional steps to support customers over the coming months in response to the ongoing rise in scam activity.

This will include a 50% increase in scam specialists and launching new digital chat capabilities, enabling branch staff to connect directly with Westpac’s scam team.

Mr Young added that Westpac wants its customers to know that support is available if they need it.

"If you think you may have been scammed, it’s important you contact your bank immediately. The sooner you act, the better chance we have at reducing the impact of that scam," he said.

To report a scam or to seek assistance, customers can contact 132 032 or use the Westpac app.

Signs of an impersonation scam

  • Unsolicited contact: They unexpectedly call, SMS or email you claiming to be from a reputable business.
  • They know personal information: They have often fraudulently obtained personal details already like your name, ending digits on your credit card or approximate location, which makes them appear legitimate.
  • They want you to action something: They will instruct you to complete an action while on the phone to them – like updating your banking details, increasing your daily payment limit, downloading an app or sending money to a ‘new’ account.
  • They use spoofing software: They may use software to send a fake SMS that appears to be from the business they’re allegedly calling you from while on the phone with you to convince you the call is genuine.

The new Westpac data comes off the back of research by security and anti-virus platform Avast last month, which found that Australians had lost $336 million to scams so far in 2022.

"We urge Australians to remain cautious of any unexpected phone calls, text messages or emails from a known business and always consider what they’re asking you to do," Mr Young said.

"If ever in doubt, hang up and call back on a publicly listed number to ensure the call is genuine."


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