May 28, 2024

Information Sharing is Crucial to the Fight Against Fraud

image of keyboard key that reads fraud prevention

MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—It’s no secret that banks can be secretive where customer information is concerned. But when it comes to fighting back against scammers, there’s growing consensus that it’s time to start working together.

That was the message at a May 6 Smarter Faster Payments 2024 session, where Karen Helmberger offered a compelling reason why. 

“Criminals are bolder than ever and they share information incredibly well. We actually could learn a ton in watching what they do,” said Helmberger, Director of Fintech and Payments at FS-ISAC, the member-driven, not-for-profit organization that advances cybersecurity and resilience in the global financial system. “They are really very, very good at collaboration. We have to be better.”

But that’s going to require major changes in historical behavior, as Devon Marsh, Nacha Managing Director, ACH Network Rules and Risk Management, pointed out.

“We’ve got to overcome the inertia of our own obstacles that we’ve made for ourselves,” Marsh told the session “Addressing the Alarming Growth in Scams with Information Sharing.” Marsh called for less hesitancy, pointing to a section of the Patriot Act that “explicitly encourages something that we’ve been prohibited or reluctant to do in the past, and that’s share information about financial crimes between affected financial institutions.”

The power of cooperation can be enormous, Marsh said, noting that each transaction contains a wealth of potentially valuable information. For example, “If enough institutions point out that a bad transaction went to a particular receiving account, then a database that collects their reports, like IC3’s database, can triangulate and determine, ‘This must be a money mule, because all these disparate transactions are flowing to it for no good reason.’”

Information sharing will “go hand-in-hand almost” with scam classification, said Amanda Compton, Integrated Account Protection Director at Arvest Bank. 

“The whole idea behind the scam classifications is to at least get us speaking the same language first, so that whenever we are sharing information it’s at least consistent where we’re reporting numbers and seeing where our areas of opportunity are,” said Compton. 

As conversations about information sharing go deeper, Compton encouraged all parties “to not lose sight of those victims’ stories, because this is their information, an event that happened to them, that we are sharing.” 

Helmberger agreed, adding that “empathy training for anybody on the front line is going to be critical.”