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  • Step change in fraud prevention as Permanent TSB launches in-app scanning facility for known fraudulent URLs targeting the bank’s customers

In a global banking first, Permanent TSB has introduced ‘PTSB Protect’, a new feature to its banking app which will help prevent customers falling victim to fraudulent scams.

PTSB Protect will alert customers if they receive a text message containing a fraudulent link or block them from accessing a suspicious website on their mobile device. The feature compares links received or accessed on a customer’s phone against a known blocklist of links which pose as legitimate websites in order to deceptively obtain a customer’s personal or banking details.  Where a link matches an entry on the blocklist – which will be maintained and updated daily by the Bank– the website will either be blocked or an alert will be sent to the customer.

PTSB Protect will scan incoming texts to the customer’s phone regardless of whether they are using the banking app at the time or not.  The bank has no access itself to the information contained on the customer’s phone.

As the functionality will require additional access to browser and text message content, customers will be required to opt-in to enable the new feature. To increase awareness and adoption, the Bank will undertake a campaign to inform customers on the added capability.

It is understood that Permanent TSB is the first bank in the world to integrate this type of feature into their mobile banking app. Permanent TSB has worked in partnership with Expleo, a global technology, engineering and consulting service provider.

Chief Operating Officer of Permanent TSB, Peter Vance said:

“Attempts to defraud customers through criminal activity has increased significantly over the last number of years. Our own research suggests that 75% of Irish consumers have experienced an attempt of fraud with 27% falling victim to it. With scams getting more sophisticated, consumers need to continue to be on their guard at all times. By introducing PTSB Protect as a new line of defence to our mobile app, we can now directly identify the source of this activity and help protect our customers before their accounts can become compromised. Financial fraud is a significant threat and it is often being targeted at groups that may think they are less vulnerable, so we’re delighted to partner with Expleo Ireland on this world-first anti-smishing solution.”

Recent figures from the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) found that incidents of card fraud cost Irish consumers €85m last year, an increase of 8.8% compared with 2021. Permanent TSB research suggests consumers rely on a wide variety of sources to find out about financial scams; 26% say they find out from social media first, marginally ahead of the 24% who find out from banks and other financial institutions, and 23% who do so from traditional media. PTSB Protect adds an additional and credible resource to inform consumers of scams and to support them in being vigilant.

The concept for the PTSB Protect feature was initially developed by Permanent TSB Fraud Manager, David Byrne, following his successful submission to the Bank’s internal innovation competition. Expleo was identified as the ideal partner to support the initiative as they had separately identified the need for a similar solution.

Phil Codd, Managing Director, Expleo Ireland, said:

“In today's digital era, we find ourselves under a persistent barrage of sophisticated phishing scams. The complexity of these attacks can make it difficult to trust the technology we rely on, or to tell what's real from what's fake. This anti-smishing solution puts online safety front and centre and gives banking customers the assurance they need.

We are delighted to collaborate with a forward-thinking banking institution like Permanent TSB. Their adoption of this technology places them at the forefront of customer experience and protection. Every individual has the right to a secure digital environment, and this software embodies that assertion.”

Most common banking fraud occurs when customers share their details with websites claiming to make legitimate requests for information, and while this feature provides an additional line of defence, fraudsters will continue to evolve in response to new fraud prevention measures and therefore customers need to remain vigilant.

Notes to Editor:

  • Once PTSB Protect is enabled, on Android devices, the feature will alert customers when a fraudulent website is present in a text message. On iPhone devices, the Permanent TSB app will essentially act as a content blocker to prevent customers from visiting known fraud sites.

  • Permanent TSB fraud research referenced relates to the Bank’s Reflecting Ireland research series published in November 2022 and was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,114 adults aged 18+ in the Republic of Ireland.

  • Permanent TSB reminds customers that the bank never includes links in text messages and never asks for security information when they call a customer. In the event of suspicious activity, we will only ever ask the customer to respond by replying with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or by contacting the bank’s dedicated team on a 24-hour phone number.
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