How to tell if a bank verification phone call is authentic

We thank Madam Chin Kin Yam for her letter ("Banks must review verification SOPs"; last Thursday) and the opportunity to highlight the differences between an authentic bank verification phone call and a phone scam.

To ensure the true identity of bank customers before proceeding to have conversations about their banking matters, the verification process has to be rigorous.

To ascertain a customer's identity, banks will pose questions to verify the customer's personal details like his name, NRIC number, date of birth and his relationship with the bank.

OCBC Bank is no different. We assure all customers that any personal information revealed to bank officers during the authentication process is kept strictly confidential and will be used only for identity verification purposes.

There are important differences between authentic bank verification phone calls and phone scams impersonating a bank.

Banks will not ask for private security information such as passwords, PINs or credit card CVV (card verification value) security numbers; nor will banks request customers to transfer funds to other bank accounts if customers did not initiate the transfer.

The Singapore Police Force has highlighted the rise of phone scams impersonating large organisations, with over $4 million lost to scammers and more than 50 reports of phone scams since March.

Unfortunately, OCBC Bank has been one of these large organisations chosen by fraudsters for such phone scams.

Just last week, we sent out a media statement alerting everyone not to fall prey to phone scams ("Sharp rise in phone scams impersonating OCBC, says bank"; ST Online, July 18). In it, we highlighted some of the differences between an authentic phone verification and a scam.

We advise customers and the public not to reveal any personal information to callers if they are unsure of their authenticity, and to call us on 1800-363-3333 (or +65 6363-3333 from overseas) to verify that a genuine bank officer had attempted to call them.

Lee Ee Ling (Ms)

Head of Risk and Prevention

Consumer Financial Services

OCBC Bank

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'How to tell if a bank verification phone call is authentic'. Print Edition | Subscribe