Banks must review verification SOPs

I read with great concern about the spike in the number of scam phone calls impersonating OCBC Bank recently ("OCBC alerts customers to phone scams"; Tuesday).

From my personal experience, customers of the bank are especially vulnerable to such scams because of the bank's practice of asking customers to furnish their personal information, even when it was the bank which initiated the call.

Some months ago, I called the OCBC hotline regarding my account. The operator asked me for some personal information, such as my name, NRIC number and account numbers before telling me a bank officer would get in touch with me.

I got a call a few days later from someone who said she was from OCBC. She said she needed to verify my personal information first, as part of the bank's procedures to safeguard customer security - the call could not proceed otherwise.

Despite my frustration, I had to take the calculated risk that she was a legitimate caller, and it was with great trepidation that I went on to provide all the information asked for, including the types accounts I have with the bank.

Luckily, it turned out to be a legitimate call.

The same thing happens each time I call the bank's hotline for someone to get back to me.

The onus seems to be on the recipient of a call to furnish his personal information as proof of his identity to the caller. Not only does this not make sense, it is surely also very dangerous to do so.

It is high time that OCBC and any other bank which does the same thing to review their verification procedures when they call their customers.

Chin Kin Yam (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2016, with the headline 'Banks must review verification SOPs'. Print Edition | Subscribe