MAS working with banks to review liability framework on scam payment transactions

There were 89 police reports of scam card transactions made with SMS one-time passwords from September to February.
There were 89 police reports of scam card transactions made with SMS one-time passwords from September to February.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A review to provide clearer guidelines on what happens to consumers and banks in the event of scams will be conducted by the end of the year, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday (July 26).

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will be working with financial institutions to fine-tune the existing framework on fraudulent payment transactions, covering the responsibilities and liabilities of banks and consumers in such situations.

Mr Wong, who is MAS’ deputy chairman, was speaking on behalf of the central bank’s chairman, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. 

The police received 89 reports of fraudulent card transactions performed with SMS one-time passwords (OTPs) where the victims said they did not make the transaction or receive the OTP to authorise it, between September last year and February, Mr Wong said.

He was replying to Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC), who asked if there has been an increase in bank-related cyber scams in the past six months.

"While these cases represent less than 0.1 per cent of fraudulent online card transactions reported, and the number of cases has come down since March 2021, it is nevertheless concerning," Mr Wong said.

The monetary value of these 89 cases is not immediately available, but can be provided later, he added in reply to a query by Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson).

Meanwhile, he noted that banks are already flexible in dealing with such cases and are prepared to offer a waiver of the disputed amounts, taking into account the circumstances of the victim involved on a case-by-case basis.

"Generally, consumers who have suffered financial losses from fraudulent transactions are protected, as long as they have acted responsibly," Mr Wong said.

"MAS has asked financial institutions to step up vigilance towards such fraud.

"Financial institutions have put in place additional measures, such as rejecting card payments made to common merchants previously linked to the unauthorised transactions or placing limits on the transaction amounts that consumers can transact with such merchants."

Efforts are also made to raise awareness among residents, especially the elderly, of various types of scams, said Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary.

In response to queries by Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) on scam calls, he said the police work with residents' committees and grassroots volunteers to spread scam alerts to residents.

In April last year, telcos also implemented the use of the "+65" prefix as an alert that the calls are coming from overseas, so that people know that they should not answer such calls if they are not expecting one.

Dr Janil said: "This is part of our broader anti-scam efforts, including the expeditious blocking of known numbers used to perpetuate scams or those attempting to spoof the numbers of Government agencies.

"The ministries and agencies involved will continue to monitor and are concerned about an increased trend (in) attempted scam calls and spoofed calls using the +65 prefix."

But a challenge is that there are also legitimate calls that will end up using the prefix, such as Singaporeans who are using roaming services and calling home from overseas, he noted.

"Education indeed is the key, because the main prevention is going to be the vigilance of the public, the awareness of what a scam might look like and what they might be trying to get away with," Dr Janil said.

"The education and outreach is not confined only to the specifics of a scam call or a spoof call, but (extends to) our general efforts to educate the public around using online technologies."