ONLINE scammers are becoming more creative and local banks have warned customers to be careful.
"Customers need to be alert but not alarmed by these scammers. They should keep a close watch on their accounts and report any suspicious transactions immediately to their bank or financial institution," Association of Banks in Fiji (ABIF) general secretary Rasiklal Jogia said.
Online fraud or scams refer to any type of fraud that users email, web sites, chat rooms or message boards to present fraudulent propositions to prospective victims mainly to solicit money from their accounts, the ABIF said.
Banking fraud, it added, could also involve card skimming, where information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card is copied. Once scammers have skimmed a card, they can create another card with the stolen information and run up charges on a customers account. This is also a way identities are stolen where the scammers can take out loans using this information.
According to the ABIF, fraudsters are also calling people pretending to be bank officers and asking questions about customers' personal details.
There is also a growing trend of mule recruiters those who advertise fake jobs. Last year, at the Anti Money Laundering workshop, the Fiji Police Force estimated that collectively locals lost about $1million in a visa scam after responding to an advertisement by a man who offered permanent residency in Australia and asked for bank card details.
Annually, the country is estimated to have at least $100million in black money within our financial system. While at least $33m is on tax evasion, the rest are proceeds of crime, cyber crimes and cheque frauds. Last week, ABIF warned customers to be wary of online scams saying they were on a rise.
"People should never give out their personal confidential information, even to their close family and friends," Westpac Fiji general manager Adrian Hughes said.
"Because we issued you those passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) and the like in the first place, Westpac would never email or text customers asking them about their online banking details and passwords.
"Even if we need to verify a transaction, we'll call the customer but we would never ask for those personal details.
"We've got a strong sound system to protect our customers money. However, controls and security of personal details are compromised if a customer gives out their personal details to unauthorised third parties. Its like them giving the key to their house directly to the criminal."
Mr Hughes said cases of recent online fraud have shown scammers are using more creative ways to extract customer information. Emails, phone messages masquerading as customer satisfaction surveys, advertisements for jobs at a bank or financial institution and even lucky customer prizes that then precede to ask for customer details, sometimes to supposedly allow them to deposit the money as fronts for scams.
ANZ Bank said it offered a range of security measures to ensure that customers transactions and personal information were protected. These included:
ANZ Internet Banking guarantee - When using ANZ Internet, security measures are in place to protect against any unauthorised transactions. If one is a victim of fraud, the bank guarantees reimbursement for any unauthorised transactions. The guarantee also extends fraud transactions on credit cards.
Fraud detection system - a sophisticated technology to monitor internet Banking and credit card transactions to identify suspicious activity and alert customers.
Firewalls - a firewall mechanism to prevent unauthorised access to and from the network.
Automatic time outs - within the internet banking system, sessions can remain unattended for a maximum of 15 minutes. After this time, the system automatically logs off and ends your session.
Account aggregation - Unless the account services are provided or referred to you by ANZ, ANZ does not authorise, promote or endorse the use of account services offered by parties other than ANZ to access your ANZ accounts.
ANZ head of electronic banking, Apenisa Seniloli said customers should keep their computers safe by having up to date security software and to also check that they are only using trusted sites for purchasing items. They should not open emails they are not sure about, he said.
"Keep your computer browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox), and product software (Microsoft Office/Adobe flash, etc) up to date. Software providers frequently develop updates and patches to address new and developing security threats.
"Report anything you are suspicious of immediately, especially if you think your card has been stolen, a suspicious transaction is on your bank statement, or your mail has been accessed by someone," he added.