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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, delivered the following speech to the Federal Parliament. Please see above video for full speech.

“Last year Australians lost over $3 billion to scams, an increase of 80 per cent on 2021. In other words, scams are impacting a lot of people and they are increasingly devastating.

“For instance one of my constituents recently lost $100,000 to a remote access scam where the money was taken via multiple payments to unknown accounts. Yes she quickly contacted MyState Bank and the authorities, but the money was already gone. And after a lengthy complaint process, MyState finally offered this customer a token “goodwill” payment of just $5,000 while accepting no responsibility.

“Another constituent lost $250,000 to an investment scam where the scammers went to great lengths to impersonate financial advisers from ING. Yes he had gone into his bank beforehand in an effort to do his due diligence, but was told that Bendigo couldn’t check the account details for him and transferred the $250,000 anyway. The customer later discovered he’d deposited the money into an unrelated scammers account, but again it was too late and the money was long gone.

“These losses are growing, not because Australians are somehow becoming more stupid as banks seem to imply, but because scams are becoming increasingly complex and difficult for our protections to combat, and for ordinary Australians to identify.

“Now banks used to be a safe place to put your money. But their drive towards online services and frictionless payments has pushed many of the risks and responsibilities back onto their customers.

“Moreover the banks now often engage in scam victim blaming and take no responsibility themselves. Indeed a recent ASIC report found that in 2021/22 the big four banks only reimbursed about 11 per cent of scam victims, and at a rate of between two and five per cent of the losses. This is at a time when the big four made a combined profit of about $30 billion.

“Best I repeat that, Deputy Speaker, that the big four banks only reimbursed 11 per cent of scam victims, and then at only two and five per cent of their losses, while making a combined profit of about $30 billion.

“Good grief the banks are more than happy to raise interest rates, close branches, reduce services and push customers online. But they are stubbornly unwilling to invest in adequate scam protections or to support the vast majority of their regular customers who fall victim to increasingly skilled scammers.

“Australia’s current banking industry self-regulation is clearly failing. To fix this the Government must act decisively and place a meaningful positive obligation on banks and other industries to raise their standards in scam prevention and to reimburse victims of scams where these victims were not grossly negligent or involved in fraud. The UK has done this, and we should too.”