MAS proposes stricter ways to verify customers' identity as impersonation scams rise

The proposal would also prohibit financial institutions from relying on common personal information, such as NRIC number. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Banks, insurers and other financial institutions may have to implement more stringent ways of verifying customers' identity in non-face-to-face situations such as phone or online banking .

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Tuesday (Nov 10) issued a consultation paper on the types of information required for such verification of an individual's identity.

The proposed requirements come against the backdrop of rising impersonation scam cases, and seek to address risks arising from theft and misuse of a person's personal particulars, MAS said.

Under the proposal, it would be mandatory for a financial institution, such as a bank or insurer, to use at least one of the following types of information for non-face-to-face verification through channels such as phone or online banking:

• A password or PIN;

• A one-time password generated through a hardware or software token;

• Biometric information which uniquely identifies the individual;

• Information that is known only between the individual and the financial institution, such as account transaction details;

These would be required before any transactions or requests from the customer is undertaken, MAS said.

The proposal would also prohibit financial institutions from relying on common personal information, such as NRIC number, residential address and date of birth, as the sole means of identity verification.

MAS chief cyber security officer Tan Yeow Seng said that personal information such as NRIC number and date of birth are often provided by the public for various purposes, such as filling application forms.

Such information could be used for impersonation fraud if it falls into the wrong hands, he said.

"The proposed notice will further bolster consumer confidence in financial institutions by making these identity verification practices compulsory during non-face-to-face financial transactions," Mr Tan said, adding that consumers should too play their part by not disclosing their online banking login credentials to others.

The consultation paper is available on the MAS website and interested parties can submit their comments on the proposed requirements until Dec 9.

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