Threats to your banking safety

Threats to your banking safety

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To help you feel confident we want to give you enough information to help you identify threats to your computer as well as any potential scams or fraud that may impact you.

Threats to your Computer

Each and every time you log onto the internet your computer is at risk of various threats with the aim of getting your personal details and accessing your money.

Behind the scenes we use various security measures to ensure that your transactions and personal information are protected. However, you as a customer can also play a big part in protecting your banking and personal information. The first step in that process is to understand the main threats to your computer.

Here we describe the main threats to your computer and how to protect yourself from them.

  • Phishing
  • Viruses and Worms
  • Trojans
  • Spyware and Adware


Phishing is a scam where hackers 'fish' for your personal details by using hoax emails claiming to be from financial institutions. This method continues to be favoured by online thieves.

Hoax emails claiming to be from banks are often generated overseas and are sent in bulk. The email asks the recipient to provide sensitive information such as their username, password, customer registration number or PIN by providing a link leading to a fake website, enabling thieves to gather the details for later fraudulent use.

If you receive an email requesting you to re-register or re-enter sensitive details, delete it immediately and notify the Internet Banking Help Desk on 13 95 00

You can minimise your chances of being a victim of Phishing scams by:

  1. Typing into your Internet browser to log onto Internet Banking.
  2. Treating all emails requesting personal log on information such as username, password or PIN with extreme caution. Bank of Sydney will not send you an email asking for your Account Details, Financial Details, or login details
  3. Immediately deleting emails of unknown origin, no matter how innocent or provocative the subject headings sound.
  4. Changing your Internet banking password on a regular basis.
  5. Keeping your anti-virus and firewalls up-to-date and perform regular scans of your computer.

Viruses and Worms

A computer virus is a program that attaches itself to another program, but changes the action of that program so that the virus is able to spread. Unlike Trojans, which are self-sufficient programs, viruses can only run if the infected program is running. While active, the virus attempts to reproduce and attach itself to other programs. This can tie up resources such as disk space and memory, causing problems on any home computer.

A worm is similar to a virus. It exploits computers in a network that contain security holes. Once a security hole is found, the worm will attempt to replicate itself from computer to computer. Like viruses, worms can be equally destructive.

You can increase your chances of ensuring your computer is free from worms and viruses by:

·         Installing anti-virus software, and keeping it updated with the latest virus definitions.

·         Downloading and installing security patches for your operating system as soon as they become available.

·         Not accepting attachments from emails of unknown sources.

·         Installing software from trusted sources only.



A Trojan is a destructive program that poses as a harmless application. Unlike viruses, Trojans do not replicate themselves and do not need a host program to attach to.

Today's computer users often accept Trojan horses onto their computers, believing that the program is harmless or even helpful. Some Trojans will claim to rid the computer of viruses or other harmful applications, but instead introduce viruses and leave it vulnerable to attacks by hackers and intruders. Trojans can appear as pop ups or some don’t appear at all and silently do damage in the background.

You can minimise your chances of unintentionally downloading Trojans by:

·         Not opening emails or accepting attachments from unknown sources.

·         Installing software from trusted sources only.

·         Not clicking on links contained within emails of unknown sources.

·         Regularly scanning your computer for Trojans and other malicious programs with up-to-date anti-virus software.

·         Using a firewall to monitor traffic to and from your computer while connected to the Internet.

·         Downloading and installing security patches for your operating system as soon as they are available.

·         Keeping your anti-virus and firewalls up-to-date and perform regular scans of your computer


Spyware and Adware

Spyware is the collective name given to software that is installed on your computer to secretly obtain information and send it back to another source. Spyware programs can be installed through a virus or as part of another software installation eg: a "freeware" program.

You can minimise your chances of unintentionally downloading spyware onto your computer by:

·         Being wary of banners, ads and pop-ups while surfing the Internet. Do not click on them no matter how enticing they may appear.

·         Reviewing terms and conditions when you install free programs or subscribe to services from the Internet.

·         Using up-to-date anti-spyware program to regularly scan your computer.


Types of Scams

Scams are attempts to intentionally mislead a person, usually with the goal of financial or other gain. Many Australian customers have fallen prey to various different scams. It's important for you to understand how to recognise scams and avoid them. So here’s a few tips to help you.

1.       If it looks too good to be true - it probably is.

2.       ALWAYS get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.

3.       Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.

4.       NEVER send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.

5.       Check your bank account and credit card statements regularly. If you see a transaction you cannot explain on your Bank of Sydney account, contact us immediately on 13 95 00.

6.       Keep your credit and ATM cards safe. Do not share your personal identity number with anyone. Do not keep any written copy of your PIN with the card.

Find out more about scams


Types of banking fraud

As a customer you may be seen as a potential target for fraudulent activities. However by arming yourself with information and tools you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.

Do you know the four biggest fraud threats you face?

·         Electronic fraud

·         Identity theft

·         Credit/Debit card fraud

·         Cheque fraud.

What is Credit/Debit Card Fraud?

Credit card and debit card fraud is a crime whereby your credit or debit card can be reproduced in order to use the available balance to obtain a financial advantage. The creation and/or alteration of a credit/debit card occurs when the information contained on the magnetic strip is reproduced. This type of crime is known as ‘skimming’.

Credit or debit card fraud can also occur when your card is lost or stolen and used by a third party to purchase goods with those cards or to remove cash from the cards.

Credit or debit cards can also be intercepted in transit while being sent to you. Your cards can also be compromised by a dishonest merchant who undertakes unauthorised duplicate transactions on your card.

Protect your credit / debit card:

·         Memorise your personal identification number (PIN). Don't use the same PIN for all your cards, and don't choose your birth date or other easily identifiable numbers that might be on something else in your wallet.

·         Check your statements and call Bank of Sydney immediately on 13 95 00
 if you see anything suspicious on your statement. You could help the company uncover fraud—and save yourself from paying unauthorised transactions.

·         Do not let your credit card out of your sight at anytime – for example, at a restaurant – go with the card.

·         Card fraud is not applicable in Australia only – be just as vigilant when travelling overseas, credit card skimming is an international crime.

·         Always sign your card in ink as soon as you receive it.

·         Keep track of when new and reissued cards should arrive, and call Bank of Sydney on 13 95 00

 if they don't come on time.

·         Make sure your mailbox is secure, and that only you and the postal carrier have access to it.

·         Tear up all credit card receipts and pre-approved credit card offers into small pieces before you throw them away. Keep your statements in a safe place.

·         When you use your credit card online, make sure you are using a secure website. Look for a small key or lock symbol at the bottom right of your browser window.

·         Never give your card number to strangers or telemarketers who call you on the phone. Don't give your card number unless you initiated the call.

What is cheque fraud?

Cheque fraud is the use of a cheque to get financial advantage by:

·         altering the cheque (payee/amount) without authority

·         theft of legitimate cheques and then altering them

·         duplication or counterfeiting of cheques

·         using false invoices to get legitimate cheques

·         depositing a cheque into a third party account without authority

·         issuing a cheque for payment knowing that insufficient funds are in the account to cover the cheque.

How to protect yourself from cheque fraud

·         Reconcile your accounts promptly and regularly

·         Never sign blank cheques, and only sign cheques after all details have been completed.

·         Limit the number of signatures to your account to ensure control.

·         Ensure that your signature is not with documents that can be accessed by the general public.

·         Keep all cheques secure when not in use to deter theft.

·         Don’t leave any gaps in the completion of the payee name, amount in words and in figures.

·         If cheques are lost or stolen contact Bank of Sydney immediately and ask them to stop payment on the cheque.

·         Ensure that any invoices are valid before payment.

·         Consider using electronic means of payment (if possible) for high value payments.

·         Ensure that your mailbox is secure to protect your inward cheques.

What is Electronic Fraud?

A number of customers from Australian financial institutions have been targeted with hoax emails. These emails appear to be genuine bank emails but in reality they are fake.

Some emails inform the customer that their security details and passwords need to be updated by logging into an authentic looking, but fake website. The purpose of these websites is to obtain your log on details to access your bank accounts.

Others communicate security messages and advise you to install software from the email that checks and removes viruses. By downloading the software you are in fact tricked into downloading a virus.

Bank of Sydney will not send you an email asking for your Account Details, Financial Details, or login details for Bank of Sydney Mobile or Internet Banking.

If you have any concerns, call the Internet Banking Help Desk on 13 95 00

 or forward the suspicious email to us via

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs where a criminal obtains the personal details of another individual to masquerade as that individual and, typically; transfer funds, obtain cash, secure loans and other financial benefits.  The real individual is then left to deal with the debts incurred along with the inconvenience and associated legal implications.

Identity theft can occur when a fraudster gets access to your personal information such as your date of birth, your address, your drivers licence number and information from utilities, phone and credit union/bank account records.

This can be obtained through:

·         email scams such as those mentioned above

·         similar telephone scams; and

·         theft of your records and/or mail.

Customers should:

·         be responsible  and take care of all your personal information to minimise the risk of loss/theft (e.g. by keeping tax records and other financial documents in a safe place);

·         minimise the risk of mail theft by securing your mailbox (eg with a padlock);

·         cancel unused credit union/bank/utility/phone accounts;

·         securely dispose of any documents that may contain personal details (such as account statements, credit card transaction slips, bills, etc);

·         regularly obtain a copy of your personal Credit File to make sure there is no unusual activity on your file; and

·         promptly report any loss or theft of personal documents to the police.