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MAS introduces more measures to fight digital banking scams

CNA – An emergency self-service “kill switch” will be introduced to help fight digital banking scams, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said on Thursday.

It is among the additional anti-scam measures that are being progressively implemented by banks, and will be in full effect by the end of October.

These measures complement those that were announced earlier on January 19.

The “kill-switch” will give customers a way to suspend their accounts quickly if they suspect their bank accounts have been compromised, MAS and ABS said in a media release.

A similar function has been available to OCBC Bank customers since February. It was part of the bank’s enhanced anti-scam measures after a total of SGD13.7 million was lost in a spate of phishing scams involving SMSes impersonating OCBC Bank. Other measures to be rolled out include requiring additional confirmation to process significant changes to customer accounts and other high-risk transactions, and setting the default transaction limit for online funds transfers to SGD5,000 or lower.

Banks will facilitate rapid account freezing and fund recovery operations by co-locating staff at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) Anti-Scam Centre. They will also enhance their fraud surveillance systems to take into account a broader range of scam scenarios.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore building. PHOTO: AFP

“To minimise the risk of navigating to fraudulent websites, bank customers are strongly encouraged to use mobile banking apps, as opposed to web browsers,” the news release said.

“Banks will continue to enhance the functionality of their banking apps, and assist customers to make the transition towards greater use of these apps.”

To ensure sustained investment in the industry’s anti-scam initiatives, a standing committee on fraud comprising “the seven domestic systemically important banks” will take forward the work of the Anti-Scam Taskforce established in 2020.

The committee will report directly to the ABS council and drive the industry’s anti-scam efforts. The industry’s anti-scam work will also be formalised into five key workstreams: Customer education, authentication, fraud surveillance, customer handling and recovery, and equitable loss sharing.

The seven banks comprise DBS Bank, OCBC, UOB, Citibank, Maybank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.

For instance, they should keep apprised of scam advisories and alerts, refer to official sources for hotline numbers and website addresses, turn on in-app notifications for their banking apps on their devices, and never reveal Internet banking credentials or passwords to anyone.

“While the enhanced anti-scam measures put in place by banks may lengthen the time taken for customers to complete certain online banking transactions, this is necessary to achieve a greater level of security and protection for their funds,” MAS and ABS said.

They added that the ongoing fight against scams requires an “ecosystem approach”, with all stakeholders playing their part.

“A draft framework aimed at achieving an equitable loss sharing between consumers and financial institutions is being finalised and will be put up for public consultation as part of a revised E-Payments User Protection Guidelines soon,” they added in the news release.

“The consultation will also cover the responsibilities of other key parties in the ecosystem.”

MAS deputy managing director for financial supervision, Ho Hern Shin, added: “MAS will continue to work with other government agencies and financial institutions to strengthen Singapore’s financial system’s resilience against scams.”