OCBC Has Been Making Goodwill Payouts to Victims of OCBC SMS Phishing Scam

Did you click the link in the message sent by OCBC?

Well, OCBC does not send any links in their official messages. You probably fell for a phishing scam.

But before you cry at the fate of your bank account, you’ll be glad to know that OCBC has been making payouts to customers affected by it.

Here’s OCBC’s latest media release simplified for you.

SMS Phishing Scam: What Is It?

This phishing scam first started in December 2021. Many OCBC customers would have received multiple alerts and warnings about this scam, through channels like email, the OCBC Mobile Banking app, or social media. The public would have also seen the media covering this particular scam as well.

Many scams have occurred in the past, so why is this particular scam so widely covered by the news?

Previous scams largely ran with the “too good to be true deals” plot. This scam, which targets people’s fear that there was an issue with their bank accounts or cards, is a lot more dangerous.

How Did The Scammers’ Message Appear In The Same Thread As OCBC’s Official Messages?

Scammers can pretend to be OCBC by cloning a legitimate sender ID via SMS, also known as spoofing. This allows the scammer’s SMS to look like it is from the Bank, thus appearing in the same thread as the bank’s real SMSes.

The SMSes usually claim that there are issues with a customer’s bank account or cards, and provide a link in the SMS to “resolve” these issues. The link then redirects customers to a cloned version of the Bank’s official site, tricking customers into giving scammers their bank information.

Once the scammers have their bank information, they can quickly transfer money out via online banking.

The monies are often rerouted through many accounts as well, so it is difficult for OCBC to track them and recover the cash.

Why Did OCBC Take So Long To Respond?

OCBC Bank acknowledged that its customer service and response did not meet customers’ expectations, especially since this was a high-stress, high-anxiety situation.

However, given the sophisticated and aggressive nature of this scam, investigations into cases are much more complicated. They require more time for checks to be conducted across the many parties involved. This was why the Bank needed more time to address the concerns of the customers affected.

The Bank also seeks the patience and understanding of all affected customers to give them the time to give each case proper review and validation.

Not to worry, as there is a team dedicated to investigating this scam. Affected customers will be contacted as soon as the review and validation of their cases are complete.

Additionally, OCBC has begun making goodwill payouts since 8 January to victims of the scam, and more than 30 customers have received them by today (17 January).

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What Should You Do To Not Fall Prey To Such Scams?

Ms Helen Wong, OCBC Bank’s Group Chief Executive Officer, reassured customers that OCBC’s banking systems and digital banking platforms are safe and secure. This one scam should not scare consumers away from digital banking.

But as scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, here are some guidelines to follow so that your money won’t get whisked away:

  • 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.

Remember, don’t blindly believe any SMS that comes your way, even if it looks real! Always double-check with the Bank’s official websites before providing any personal information.

Better safe than sorry, right?

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