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OCBC's goodwill payouts to scam victims were 'one-off gesture': MAS

·Finance Editor
·3-min read
A view of the Monetary Authority of Singapore building in Singapore April 18, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su
OCBC’s recent goodwill payouts to fully cover customers' scam losses were a "one-off gesture" by the bank and do not set a general precedent for future cases, Singapore central bank said. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE — OCBC’s recent goodwill payouts to fully cover customers' scam losses were a "one-off gesture" and do not set a "general precedent" for future cases, Singapore central bank said on Friday (4 February).

The bank's payouts took into consideration the circumstances of how it had not met its expectations of customer service and response, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said in a statement.

OCBC on 30 January said it has completed arrangements for "full goodwill payouts" to 790 people who fell prey to phishing scams targeting its customers, with total losses reaching S$13.7 million.

Banks in Singapore have considerably implemented the additional measures to bolster the security of digital banking announced on 19 January, MAS said in its statement. The measures, which included removing clickable links in emails or SMS sent, provide a significant added layer of security to protect customers’ funds.

MAS said it is working with the industry to assess longer-term measures to be implemented in the coming months.

Sharing of losses

Among the measures is a framework for equitable sharing of losses arising from scams. The Payments Council, chaired by MAS, has been working since July 2021 to provide clarity via the framework on how losses arising from scams are to be shared among consumers and financial institutions.

"Under the framework, all parties have responsibilities to be vigilant and to take precautions against scams," MAS said.

Financial institutions are responsible for protecting their customers, such as safeguarding accounts through robust controls, and effectively detecting and responding to suspicious transactions, the statement said.

Customers must also take necessary precautions, especially by never giving away personal or banking details to anyone, never clicking on links in SMSes or emails which are claimed to be sent by a bank, and transacting only through the bank’s official website or mobile application.

"The proportion of losses each party bears will depend on whether and how the party has fallen short of its responsibilities," the regulator said.

MAS aims to publish the framework and seek the public's views within the next three months. Other than the sharing of losses, the consultation will also cover the responsibilities of other key parties.

Bank customers are urged to be extra vigilant and adhere to the following digital safety practices:

  • Never click on links provided in SMSes or emails claimed to be sent by banks.

  • Never disclose internet banking credentials or passwords to anyone, including persons claiming to be from banks or government agencies.

  • Verify SMSes or emails received by calling the bank directly on the hotline listed on its official website.

  • Transact only on the bank’s official website, or through the bank’s official mobile application.

  • Closely monitor transaction notifications received from the bank so that any unauthorised payments are reported as soon as possible to increase the chances of recovery.

  • Keep your devices updated with the latest security patches and anti-virus software.

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