The Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) is warning banking customers in bushfire impacted areas to be alert to scam phone callers falsely claiming to represent a monitoring service.

Representing 64 customer owned banks and their 4 million customers, COBA has noted a recent spate of scam phone calls to cardholders in the areas of regional Victoria bordering NSW, including the regional city of Albury Wodonga.

Claiming to be a ‘Fraud Department’ or ‘Monitoring Team’, the phone callers are targeting victims who are already suffering significant personal impact from fires and evacuations, demanding they disclose card details, PINs and internet banking login details.

Leanne Vale, Director of Financial Crimes and Services for COBA, has condemned these perpetrators and their focus on vulnerable customers.

“By pretending to represent a bank, these scammers use bullying and heavy handed tactics to threaten account holders,” said Mrs Vale.

“Its despicable behaviour and we call it out as the worst we have seen in a while, especially when people are working hard to get their lives back on track. We know that these scammers are targeting those who may be waiting for assistance.”

COBA provides the following advice to consumers who suspect a scam phone call.

1. Immediately hang up and call your banking institution. Customer owned banks will not ask you to verify bank details, or reveal PIN numbers and access codes in an unsolicited call.

2. Don’t trust information provided by the scammer. For example, when the scammer volunteers a phone number to be contacted on. Any information provided is likely to be false and designed to create an impression of believability.

3. Keep your banking details safe at all times. Scams operate out of call centres and are highly organised activity. They know now to coerce people into providing information for the purpose of stealing funds from accounts or making transactions.

If you have any reason to suspect that a phone scam has occurred, please contact Transport Mutual on (02) 8202 8555.