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Nearly six-fold rise in unauthorised online bank transactions in 2020 as phishing scams on the rise: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE — The number of unauthorised online bank and card transactions rose almost six times last year from a year ago, reflecting a growing trend in phishing scams.

Some victims of online scams recently reported that fraudsters were able to make online transactions with their card details even though the account holders had not received any one-time passwords via phone or revealed these passwrods to anyone.

Some victims of online scams recently reported that fraudsters were able to make online transactions with their card details even though the account holders had not received any one-time passwords via phone or revealed these passwrods to anyone.

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SINGAPORE — The number of unauthorised online bank and card transactions rose almost six times last year from a year ago, reflecting a growing trend in phishing scams.

The police received 1,848 reports of unauthorised online bank and card transactions last year, a sharp spike from the 329 reports made in 2019 and the 114 made in 2018, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 16). Mr Ong is also a board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

These cases arise from phishing scams, in which fraudsters impersonate someone else such as a government official or a service support personnel from a technology company in order to trick victims into revealing their banking or card details. 

Mr Ong revealed the figures in response to a question by Dr Tan Wu Meng, Member of Parliament for the Jurong Group Representation Constituency.

Dr Tan also asked for the number of unauthorised transactions made with two-factor authentication via a token and via phone text messaging, and the recourse available for a victim.

Mr Ong said that some victims have recently reported that fraudsters were able to make online transactions with their card details even though the account holders had not received any one-time passwords (OTPs) via phone or revealed their OTPs to anyone.

The police and the banks are investigating these cases.

“As a precaution, the banks have put in place additional measures, such as rejecting card payments made to some commonly disputed merchants, or placing limits on the transaction amounts that customers can transact with such merchants,” Mr Ong said.

He assured Singaporeans that if an unauthorised transaction was made due to the bank’s lapses or their violation of MAS’ rules, then the customer will not bear any financial losses so long as the customer has not been negligent with safeguarding his or her personal details.

“So if you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, the first step is to make a police report and contact your bank immediately,” he added.

More than S$200 million was lost to scammers last year as more people made transactions online during the pandemic, the police said at their annual crime statistics briefing last week.

Scams comprised 42.1 per cent of all reported crimes last year, up sharply from 27.2 per cent the year before.

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phishing scam Ong Ye Kung MAS Parliament

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