Senior citizens are often victims of scammers, who manage to trick them and gain access to their bank accounts. We are frequently told not to disclose personal banking details.
We are also told to be careful of phishing websites that resemble actual bank websites.
Such advisories are ingrained in us, and we try our best to look out for such masters of deception.
Every month, my wife and I receive payouts into our joint bank account from the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) on the same day, usually between the third and sixth days of each month. The descriptor accompanying the payout has always been "CPF NRIC No. OTHER Payments Collections via GIRO".
On Dec 2, my wife received a payment with a long descriptor which included "FAST/PayNow Transfer OCBC".
We were puzzled and called OCBC because my wife and I do not have OCBC accounts.
We wanted to return the money to the sender. We were afraid that the sender would accuse us of wrongfully retaining their monies and ask us to return them with interest.
Worse still, we were afraid that scammers could be involved. We have heard about scammers using their victim's bank account to receive their ill-gotten monies.
OCBC was unable to tell us who sent the money.
On Dec 3, I received a payment with the same long descriptor as my wife's payment the day before. It was then that we realised that the payments were our monthly payouts from CPFB, because the amounts were similar to previous payouts.
It took many hours on the phone before I was connected to a CPFB staff member who confirmed that the payments were indeed our monthly payouts. He promised to write to me to explain what had happened.
I hope CPFB will not cause seniors undue stress by doing things such as changing the payment descriptor without informing the recipient beforehand.