Companies should have dedicated scam-reporting phone line

The frequent reports of scammers impersonating companies to cheat unsuspecting consumers warrant a more proactive stance.
The frequent reports of scammers impersonating companies to cheat unsuspecting consumers warrant a more proactive stance. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

I refer to the report on scammers impersonating Singtel technical staff to ask for personal details such as Wi-Fi passwords and NRIC numbers (Singtel warns of scammers who impersonate telco's staff to 'troubleshoot' Internet issues, ST Online, Aug 28).

Such scams are taking place with increasing regularity these days in banking, telecommunications, utilities and many other sectors. Surely, targeted businesses would want to be alerted at the first attempts by such scammers.

However, this presumed desire does not jive with my experience trying to report or verify suspected scams. Most of the time, companies do not provide a dedicated and publicly disclosed fraud reporting line for customers to call.

I have found it arduous to get through the multi-layered automated phone system of the general customer service line, putting up with energy-sapping commercials, just to speak to someone clueless, let alone trying to communicate the nature of the suspected scam to that person.

The frequent reports of scammers impersonating companies to cheat unsuspecting consumers warrant a more proactive stance. It is the responsibility of companies to provide a dedicated fraud-reporting line that one can get through easily and speak to well-trained staff on such matters.

Protecting customers from scammers should not be an after-thought. An after-the-fact notification through the mainstream media is manifestly inadequate and too late.

The authorities have frequently advised consumers to contact companies directly when they suspect that something is not right. It should go a step further through legislation to ensure that companies make it easy for consumers to check with them.

Lim Teck Koon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2019, with the headline 'Companies should have dedicated scam-reporting phone line'. Print Edition | Subscribe