BAP warns public vs rise in cybercrimes
MANILA, Philippines — The umbrella organization of the country’s largest banks is warning Filipinos to take extra precautions against online fraud, which has been rising in step with the adoption of digital banking during the pandemic.
In a statement, the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) warned the public 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 incidents of cybercrime are also rising. “Today, cybercriminals are creating more methods to defraud the public.”
Last year, the Anti-money Laundering Council reported that suspicious transaction reports during the first phase of the COVID-19 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 include unauthorized account access through skimming and phishing, and other violations of the Electronic Commerce Act at 49 percent with an estimated value of 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 BAP also assured the public that all banks have rigorous protocols for investigating cybercrime with the goal of apprehending and penalizing criminals. In addition, the industry also continues to make investments related to cybersecurity to protect clients’ personal data.
“Ensuring everyone’s security in cyberspace must be a joint effort between banks and their clients,” the BAP said.
Last year, the central bank also tightened regulations governing credit card operations in response to the spike in fraud complaints as the volume of digital transactions continued to grow amid the ongoing pandemic.
In line with this, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said the agency had mandated 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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