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‘Brokers need to recognise the red flags’ of scams, warns NAB

by Reporter12 minute read

Broker businesses are not immune to falling victim to scams and brokers need to be able to recognise the red flags, NAB’s head of broker has said.

National Australia Bank (NAB) has released a 2024 outlook highlighting the key themes that will be affecting brokers and customers this year.

​According to NAB’s executive, broker distribution Adam Brown, scams and cyber crime will continue to be a “constant challenge” this year.

Customers of the major bank reported an average of 1,500 scams cases every month in 2023, with Mr Brown stating that brokers therefore “need to recognise the red flags and protect themselves and their customers”.


​“Criminals are using sophisticated technology to manipulate victims and we’re seeing new scams emerge in 2024, such as AI voice impersonation, remote access scams using chat and QR code phishing,” he warned.

“Brokers need to recognise the red flags and protect themselves and their customers.

​“If brokers or their customers believe they have been the victim of a scam, they should contact their bank and report it to Scamwatch.”

According to Scamwatch, some common scams include messages from those who:

  • Try to gain trust by claiming to be from a well-known business or impersonating a known contact.
  • Suggest their own verification procedures, like going to websites they have created or calling numbers they provide.
  • Appeal to someone’s emotions and ‘press buttons’ to get what they want.
  • Create a sense of urgency to get them to make decisions without thinking.

​He noted that the bank was increasing its use of technology to combat the growing threat of cyber crime, including by using artificial intelligence (AI) in areas like cyber security and preventing fraud and financial crime.

​Mr Brown noted that improvements in technology and AI would continue to enhance business security and help free up time for brokers and their support teams, which they could then use to build stronger relationships with customers and partners.

​He highlighted that NAB’s Simple Home Loans offering – which now accounts for around a quarter of broker home loans – uses technologies like AI and automation that have helped deliver faster turnaround times.

“NAB wants to be at the leading edge of AI, but we know it’s critical to do that in a way that meets customer expectations, regulatory obligations, and own data ethics standards,” Mr Brown said.

​​“We’re also supporting brokers and aggregators on their tech investments to help the whole industry to become more effective and efficient.

“It’s an inherently complex task and to be successful we need to work in collaboration with the industry and our partners across all brands and channels – including residential, commercial, and white label businesses.”

​Another theme flagged by Mr Brown for 2024 was the continuation of strong demand for property.

Noting that Australian home prices increased by 8.1 per cent over 2023 (and that the pace of growth has remained steady into 2024), according to CoreLogic, he warned that rising home prices and an undersupply of new homes would make it difficult for many new buyers to enter the market.

​“Buyers need support to realise their home ownership dreams and brokers are well equipped to help them navigate the process and access initiatives like the extended Home Guarantee Scheme for first home buyers,” Mr Brown said.

Indeed, according to NAB’s Consumer Sentiment Survey for the December quarter, consumers are changing their behaviours to address rising living costs and improve their financial positions.

​The survey found one in two consumers had cut back in areas such as eating out, buying coffee, entertainment, and car travel, while four in 10 saved on holidays, food delivery, and charitable giving.

Around 60 per cent were found to be using the ​money saved to go towards day-to-day living expenses, while a fifth used it to pay down their mortgage or other debt.

“Most customers are actively taking control of their finances, but we know some people are more concerned about their situation – whether this is due to cost-of-living pressures or natural disasters such as the recent floods and storms in Victoria and Queensland,” Mr Brown said.

​“We see that in 2024, many of our broker-introduced customers will need extra help – which is why we continue to invest in providing support and disaster relief to eligible customers.

“Our message to brokers and their customers is: reach out early. We can help and there are even more support options that might be available if people ask for help earlier.”

However, he said the bank was generally “optimistic” about the outlook for 2024 – highlighting that inflation levelled out towards the end of 2023 and that the official cash rate “may have peaked for this cycle and remain on hold until November.”

“While there will be some bumps in the road, we believe there are significant opportunities for brokers to grow their businesses and help customers to achieve their goals in the year ahead,” he said.

[Related: Association heads welcome latest inflation data]

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