Australian bank embarks on scam education

Westpac is attempting to convince customers that they should never provide personal data in response to an email, no matter who appears to be the sender

Westpac has begun a public education campaign designed to alert users to the risks associated with email Internet banking scams.

The first wave of the campaign was an email sent out to Westpac customers describing threats and tips for avoiding being burned by the scams. "Never provide personal or security related details, including our eight digit customer ID or your password in response to an email, even if it appears to have originated from Westpac," it read.

"Do not go to the Westpac Internet Banking sign in page from a link in an email. Always log in directly from your browser.... This way you will avoid being sent to a false site."

A Westpac spokesman told ZDNet Australia the campaign will use a "number of channels" to inform users, including newspaper advertisements and "a range of other communications over the next few days".

The idea of the banking industry as a whole tackling the issue head on is being bounced around at the moment, the spokesman said. "There are active discussions at the Australian Bankers Association because this is an industry-wide issue."

The key, he says, is convincing people the bank will never solicit a request for sensitive information by email. "[Our customers] should never, ever provide their security details for Internet banking based on an email," the spokesman said.