MAS Considering Taking Action Against OCBC For Phishing Scams

You know it is serious when the boss starts getting involved.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has stated that they’re considering taking action against OCBC for the recent phishing scams.

Here’s why.

OCBC’s Response Was Unsatisfactory

OCBC Bank acknowledged that its incident response and customer service was lacking. The MAS has been following up with the bank on these and broader issues relating to the scams.

Noting that OCBC has begun to make payouts to victims of the scam, MAS expects that all affected customers will be treated fairly.

Ho Hern Shin, the deputy managing director of MAS financial supervision, stated that MAS expects all financial institutions to have strong measures for fraud prevention, detection and remediation. Financial institutions are also expected to provide assistance quickly to victims of scams.

If you’ve been caught up with news of the OCBC phishing scam, you would realise that OCBC basically didn’t meet any of those expectations.

Given OCBC’s poor performance in this crisis, the Bank will be carrying out a thorough investigation to identify what they’re lacking in their processes. They will then implement the necessary remedial measures.

Meanwhile, MAS will consider taking the appropriate supervisory actions following the Bank’s review of their processes.

MAS is also working with the Association of Banks in Singapore on measures that all banks should take to ensure that digital banking remains “secure, efficient, and trusted”.

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OCBC SMS Phishing Scam 

As of 29 December 2021, 469 customers had reported a total loss of $8.5 million to these scams.

For those not caught up with this scam, you might ask: how did the situation get so dire?

Well, it turns out that the scammers are getting smarter. Knowing that the “too good to be true” plotline no longer works, they decided to target people’s fear that their cards or accounts have been compromised.

The SMSes sent by “OCBC” then provided a link for customers to click and enter their banking details to “resolve” the issue. The scammers could thus quickly transfer the money out of customers’ accounts and into their own.

Furthermore, many people fell for this scam as the scammers’ messages appeared in the same thread as OCBC’s official messages. This is because the scammers cloned OCBC’s sender ID, also known as spoofing, which allows the scammer’s SMS to resemble those sent by the Bank.

OCBC has thus responded to this incident and is making goodwill payouts for those affected.

Stay Safe From Scammers!

Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that you won’t be another scam victim:

  • Do your banking only at the Bank’s official website or mobile apps. Do not click on links in SMSes that supposedly direct you to the Bank’s website!
  • Information like log-in details or one-time passwords should not be given to anyone, nor keyed into any unverified websites.
  • The Bank will never send an SMS to inform you about account closures or lockouts. It will send physical letters instead.
  • The Bank will never send an SMS with a link for you to reactive your account. Reactivation is only done in person at branches or via verified internet banking websites.
  • Do not transfer money to strangers.

Furthermore, IOS users can also download the ScamShield app, which is an app by the Singapore authorities that blocks scam messages and calls.

If still in doubt, call the official OCBC hotline at (65) 6363 3333.

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Featured Image: TK Kurikawa and footageclips /