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OCBC rolls out 'kill switch' so customers can freeze accounts in case of scam

OCBC Bank has rolled out a
OCBC Bank has rolled out a "kill switch" that allows customers to freeze all accounts in an emergency. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Feline Lim)

SINGAPORE — OCBC Bank has rolled out a "kill switch" that allows customers to freeze all accounts in an emergency, such as if they suspect they are a victim of a scam or if they believe key account-related details have been compromised.

Customers can activate this function by calling the bank's official number on 1800-363-3333 and choosing the option "8", or at about 500 standalone OCBC ATMs, according to a statement by OCBC on Wednesday (16 January). The feature will be available on all OCBC ATMs by March 2022.

The "kill switch" enables customers to immediately freeze all their current and savings accounts (including joint accounts), ATM access, debit and credit cards and digital banking, as well as OCBC Pay Anyone app access, the bank said.

Once activated, no transactions – whether done digitally, via an ATM or at branches – can be made. Even recurring or pre-arranged fund transfers will be disabled.

After the “kill switch” is activated, an OCBC customer service executive will then contact the customer to remove compromised bank account access or cards, and issue new ones, it added.

Only a bank branch employee or customer service executive can deactivate the switch – and would only do so after receiving verified instructions from the customer, OCBC said.

Once the function is deactivated, the customer’s account will return to "normal" and all settings prior to the account suspension – including GIRO arrangements and future-dated funds transfers – will be reinstated. the bank said.

Since 18 January, OCBC has implemented a dedicated option for customers to seek assistance for incidents of suspected fraud through option "9" on its official contact number. A specially trained customer service executive can help customers freeze all bank accounts, guide them through the process of making a police report and follow up on their banking activities.

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.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said it is working with the industry to assess longer-term measures to be implemented in the coming months. It is also developing a framework for the equitable sharing of losses arising from scams.

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