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Banks to roll out more anti-scam moves including self-service 'kill switch', default S$5,000 online transfer limit

SINGAPORE — Extra measures designed to combat digital banking scams were unveiled on Thursday (June 2), including a default limit of S$5,000 for online funds transfers and an emergency "kill switch" that customers can use to suspend their accounts quickly if they fear the accounts have been compromised.

Banks to roll out more anti-scam moves including self-service 'kill switch', default S$5,000 online transfer limit
  • More measures to address digital banking scams were unveiled by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Association of Banks in Singapore
  • One is a "kill switch" to allow customers to suspend their accounts quickly if they suspect the accounts have been compromised
  • Another sets a default limit of S$5,000 for online transfers
  • The measures will be fully rolled out by Oct 31 and follow earlier measures announced in January

SINGAPORE — Extra measures designed to combat digital banking scams were unveiled on Thursday (June 2), including a default limit of S$5,000 for online funds transfers and an emergency "kill switch" that customers can use to suspend their accounts quickly if they fear the accounts have been compromised.

In a joint press release, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said that the safeguards, designed to improve the security of digital banking, will be activated by Oct 31 this year.

Banks are already progressively rolling out these measures, which are intended to complement those announced in January this year, which included the removal of clickable links in emails and SMSes sent by banks.

In February, OCBC bank announced the introduction of a "kill switch" for its customers.

Aside from the transaction limit and the “kill switch”, the latest measures include:

  • Requiring additional customer confirmation to process significant changes to customer accounts and other high-risk transactions identified through fraud surveillance
  • Facilitating rapid account freezing and fund recovery operations by co-locating bank employees at the Singapore Police Force’s Anti-Scam Centre
  • Enhancing fraud surveillance systems to take into account a broader range of scam scenarios

Earlier this year, at least 469 customers were affected by an SMS phishing scam targeting OCBC bank customers, with losses totalling at least S$8.5 million.

This prompted the authorities to consider ways to further reduce the risks posed by phishing scams.

MAS and ABS said: “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.” 

They added that a draft framework aimed at achieving an “equitable loss sharing” between consumers and financial institutions is also in the midst of being finalised. It will be put up for public consultation as part of revised e-payments user protection guidelines soon.

The consultation, they said, will also cover the responsibilities of other key parties.

Aside from that, MAS and ABS reminded customers that they have a “vital role in the fight against scams" and they will have to "stay abreast of online banking hygiene practices" as scam tactics evolve.

This includes:

  • Keeping apprised of scam advisories and alerts put out by the police, National Crime Prevention Council, MAS and banks
  • Referring to official sources, such as the MAS financial institution directory and cards issued by banks, for hotline numbers and website addresses to communicate with banks
  • Never divulging internet banking credentials or passwords to anyone

To minimise the risk of navigating to fraudulent websites, MAS and ABS said that bank customers are also “strongly encouraged” to use mobile banking applications, as opposed to web browsers.

As for sustaining investment in the banking industry’s anti-scam initiatives, an ABS Standing Committee on Fraud — comprising seven banks — will take forward the work of an anti-scam task force established in 2020.

The seven banks are: DBS, OCBC, United Overseas Bank, Citibank, MayBank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC Bank.

The committee will report directly to the ABS Council and drive the industry’s anti-scam efforts in a bid to “reinforce public confidence in the security of digital banking”, MAS and ABS said.

Under the committee, the ongoing anti-scam work of the industry will be formalised into the five key work streams covering:

  • Customer education
  • Authentication
  • Fraud surveillance
  • Customer handling and recovery
  • Equitable loss sharing

The committee will also work alongside member banks to continually review and enhance anti-scam measures for effectiveness and relevance as the scam landscape evolves, MAS and ABS added.

Related topics

MAS ABS scams banking digital banking

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