Guard personal data, be wary of cold calls: Experts

While banks have improved their security, consumers should be careful not to give out their personal data and to beware of cold calls in particular, experts have warned.

Mr David Freer, vice-president of Intel Security's Asia-Pacific consumer division, said consumers should read the terms and conditions carefully when giving personal information in return for something such as a gift or free trial.

He added: "If possible, opt out of allowing companies to use the data for other purposes, such as cross promotions."

Mr Alan Lee, a spokesman for security firm Norton, said that in the last year or so, there have been phone scams involving conmen who pass themselves off as staff of courier company DHL and claim that victims' details were used to send parcels containing fake passports or weapons.

"Traditionally, banking has been an area where there is a lot to be compromised or taken advantage of," he added.


An emerging trend is the attacking of the two-factor authentication that banks have adopted, Mr Lee said, noting that this could be done on Android phones using a trojan - malicious software that can steal information, including SMS messages.

Fraud detection systems may detect certain unusual activity, he said, but there could also be " lower accuracy patterns" that they fail to spot.

A DBS Bank spokesman said customers should be careful when they get unsolicited calls from unknown parties. They could take down the caller's name and department before calling the supposed company back on its official number.

Customers should not give out information such as log-in details or one-time passwords over the telephone or e-mail, the spokesman added.

He also gave the following tips:

• Be open to family members and banks so they can help - staff can take protective measures if given enough information in time.

• Joint-alternate accounts require only one account holder to effect a transaction. As an added safeguard, customers may sign up for a joint-all account, which would require both account holders' approval to withdraw funds.

• Do not provide personal or bank information or remit money on the advice of unsolicited callers.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2016, with the headline 'Guard personal data, be wary of cold calls: Experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe