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Banks given green light to join forces on anti-scam industry standards

By Jessica Penny
3 minute read

The ACCC has given interim authorisation to the banks to join the fight against scams but intends to maintain a watchful eye on their progress.

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) and its members will be able to participate in discussions concerning the development of an industry standard that sets out the prevention, detection, and disruption of scams affecting individuals and small businesses.

This has been enabled by a conditional interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“A coordinated response across government, law enforcement, and the private sector is essential to effectively combat scams that are evolving rapidly and with increasing sophistication,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe explained in a statement on Thursday.


The ABA first lodged an application to the ACCC on 10 July, seeking “urgent” interim authorisation while the competition regulator considered its substantive application, with the financial determination set to be released in November.

Ms Lowe said the ACCC acted quickly on the interim authorisation because the proliferation of scams is causing “significant detriment” to both consumers and businesses, with the banking sector serving a key role in combative measures and loss recovery.

“We have placed reporting conditions on the ABA to ensure we are informed of the progress of their discussions, including consultation with stakeholders, and to aid us in determining our final decision on the application,” Ms Lowe clarified.

“The ABA will be required to provide regular reports on any industry initiatives they propose such as circumstances where customers would be reimbursed or entitled to remedies.”

Strict measures that will manage the risk of banks coordinating on anything beyond scam prevention and customer redress is also included in the authorisation, the ACCC confirmed.

Interim authorisation applies to all ABA member banks, which currently includes AMP Bank, ANZ, Bank Australia, Bank of Queensland Limited, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, Citigroup, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, HSBC, ING Bank, JP Morgan Australia and New Zealand, Macquarie Bank, MUFG Bank, National Australia Bank, Rabobank Australia, Suncorp Bank, and Westpac.

The competition regulator noted that the federal government recently announced that a legislated cross-industry code will be introduced for banks, telcos, social media platforms, and others in the near term.

In turn, the ABA has submitted that a robust and well-considered bank industry standard can form the building blocks of this legislated cross-industry code.

“Consideration of these issues will be part of the public benefits consideration in our substantive decision,” the ACCC said.

The ABA has indicated it would seek further authorisation at the appropriate time in relation to implementation of the industry standard.