In the first two weeks of the year, at least 219 customers of DBS, a major bank in Singapore, have fallen victim to SMS phishing scams, suffering a combined loss of about S$446,000 (US$335,000). This surge in scam cases, where fraudsters impersonate banks or bank staff, has been on the rise since December last year, according to a joint news release by the police and DBS on Sunday (14 Jan).
Victims received unsolicited SMS messages, seemingly from DBS or POSB, alerting them of unauthorized account access attempts and urging them to click on embedded links. These links led to fake DBS websites where victims were tricked into giving away their internet banking details and One-Time Passwords (OTPs), enabling scammers to make unauthorized withdrawals.
A DBS spokesperson, responding to a query from Channel News Asia, mentioned that the bank would assess victims’ circumstances and offer goodwill payouts on a case-by-case basis, along with counselling services for those needing emotional support. The bank has a robust anti-scam awareness program to educate the public about such frauds.
The police and DBS emphasized that banks do not send clickable links via SMS. Since early 2022, all banks have stopped including clickable links in emails or SMS to retail customers as a measure to combat phishing scams. Other safeguards include lowered transaction notification thresholds and increased scam education alerts.
The authorities also advised the public to install the ScamShield App, enable two-factor authentication for bank accounts and e-wallets, and set up transaction limits. DBS reiterated that its employees will never ask for internet banking credentials or OTPs.
Customers suspecting scam involvement can call DBS’ fraud hotline or use the Safety Switch on DBS’ automated phone system to block access to their funds.
Crisis of confidence in digital banking: Sylvia Lim
On January 10, Workers’ Party Chairman Sylvia Lim raised concerns about the crisis of public confidence in digital transactions in the Singapore Parliament. She noted that even traditionally trusted savings avenues are now vulnerable to scams and malware. Ms Lim highlighted that recent “money lock” options introduced by three banks reflect the digital sphere’s inherent vulnerabilities.
She pointed out that even previously trusted savings avenues, like CPF funds and fixed deposits, are now vulnerable to scams and malware, contributing to this crisis of trust.
Although three banks have introduced “money lock” options to safeguard customer funds against cyber threats, Ms Lim noted that this move reflects an acknowledgement of the digital sphere’s inherent vulnerabilities.
“I would not like to exaggerate the situation, but I would say that we are moving towards a crisis of confidence in digital banking, without stronger intervention by government regulators.”
Ms Lim reiterated the importance of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in regulating banks, especially in terms of prevention and loss sharing in the context of scams.
She previously raised this concern in the House and submitted a proposal to MAS regarding the Risk Sharing Framework for scam losses.
Ms Lim highlighted the unequal bargaining power between banks and consumers, reminding the MAS of its pivotal role as the bank regulator to ensure that banks behave responsibly and ethically.
“Over the last few months, I have received sceptical feedback from some members of the public, that the banks’ interests will always be protected at the expense of the consumer; I hope that the MAS will demonstrate that this is not true.”
Responding to Ms Lim’s concerns, Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communication and Information, cautioned MPs against spreading alarmist labels. She compared the Workers’ Party members to bystanders criticizing firefighters’ efforts in extinguishing fires.
Ms Lim clarified that her intent was not to create panic but to address public concerns, citing Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) statistics showing 99% of people aged 60 and above are worried about becoming scam victims. She also noted that public sentiment is increasingly wary of online communications, with some residents even preferring to take their accounts offline.
Mrs Teo did not directly address Ms Lim’s statistics on scam victim concerns but emphasized that social media posts should be beneficial and not sensationalized.
“I hope that messages being put out by MPs don’t simply use very sensational or glaring headlines.’
South Korean trainee doctors resign in protest against med-school quota increase policy
OCBC allocates one-off payment to junior employees to cope with rising cost of living
US couple’s decision to skip showers in Malaysia over discoloured water criticised
Good Samaritan earns praise for assisting lost girl in Geylang
Bishan HDB maisonette sets record with S$1.48M sale
STB grants support for Taylor Swift concerts, foresees economic boost for Singapore
NUS holds 19th, NTU climbs to 32nd in Times World University Rankings 2024
Leaks and condensation issues persist for some Tengah residents using CCS
NParks investigates alleged wild chicken capture in Pasir Ris Park
Netizens amused by ‘washrooms basic cleaning’ course on SkillsFuture
Road fatalities in Singapore surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2023
Bayer cuts dividends to legal minimum to tackle debt burden
Singapore1 week ago
PM Lee encourages more births in the year of the dragon amid declining fertility rates
Singapore1 week ago
Singapore surpasses nursing recruitment target in 2023 amidst high attrition rates
Featured5 days ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Comments6 days ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Parliament2 weeks ago
SG Parliament rejects PSP’s motion calling for changes in reserves policies
Civil Society6 days ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Civil Society4 days ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community1 week ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion