Bankers’ group warns public vs rising cyber crimes, fraud
MANILA, Philippines—The umbrella organization of the country’s largest banks is asking bank customers to take extra precaution, warning against rising online fraud as the shift to digital banking goes full blast especially during the pandemic.
In a statement, the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) warned the pubic to be especially careful against the growing sophistication of so-called “phishing” attempts, where spurious emails are used to try to extract passwords and account information from unsuspecting users.
“We ask the public to remain vigilant against these schemes,” the organization said in a statement, adding that other cases of cybercrime are also rising. “Today, cybercriminals are creating more methods to defraud the public.”
Last year, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said that suspicious transaction reports during the first phase of the COVID crisis increased by 57 percent compared with the same months in the previous year.
Red flag reports from electronic money issuers soared by 688 percent, while those of pawnshops and money service businesses climbed by 51 percent. The top reasons for transactions being flagged included unauthorized account access through skimming and phishing. Other violations of the Electronic Commerce Act constituted 49 percent of fraud cases worth at least P2.7 billion.
The bankers group urged the public to regularly monitor communications from their financial institutions to protect themselves from cybercrime.
“We would like to remind the customers that banks regularly communicate the best practices that the public can utilize to ensure their cybersafety,” the BAP said.
“We call on everyone to be aware of these reminders and apply them so that cybercriminals will fail in their attacks,” the group added.
The organization also assured the public that all banks have rigorous protocols for investigating cybercrime with the goal of apprehending and penalizing criminals.
In addition, the banking industry also continues to invest in cybersecurity to protect clients’ data.
“Ensuring everyone’s security in cyberspace must be a joint effort between banks and their clients,” the BAP said.
“We would like to reiterate the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ call for collaboration among stakeholders such as law enforcement agencies, regulators, banking industry and the public at large to gather and share knowledge about cyberthreats,” the group said.
“This will allow for a swift creation of measures that would prevent these threats from harming Filipinos,” BAP said.
In 2020, the BSP also tightened regulations governing credit card operations in response to the spike in fraud complaints from the public as the volume of digital transactions continue to grow during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In line with this, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the agency has issued regulations mandating banks to put in place stringent information technology security controls and sound risk management practices, and to adopt industry-standard technology like the multi-factor authentication system for online transactions.
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