S’pore bank customers lost at least S$1.6 million to scams in past 12 months

Banks would not make unsolicited calls unless they want to sell you products.

Belmont Lay | January 14, 2020, 11:10 PM

Scammers targeting bank customers in Singapore have made off with at least S$1.6 million over the past 12 months, the police said on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

At least 60 police reports have been made over a variety of bank scams since January 2019.

1. Pretend account blocked

One way the scams were carried out was to get the victims to think that their bank accounts or ATM cards were blocked, cancelled or deactivated.

The scammer would ask for their personal particulars, internet banking details and one-time password (OTP).

Unauthorised transactions will then be made from the compromised bank accounts, and victims would only find out later on.

2. Contacted via messaging apps

Another method scammers employ include giving the victim a call on the messaging app Viber.

The scammer would claim that the bank account of the victim has been locked or suspended, while posing as a bank employee.

The scammer would then offer to resolve the matter for the victim.

The scammer would, in some cases, ask the victim to contact a specific number on WhatsApp for the purpose of verifying his or her identity.

3. Automated voice message

Another version of the scam involves giving the victim a call and an automated voice message would play, purportedly from the bank.

The victims are then informed that their bank accounts have been locked or would soon be cancelled.

The victims would press a number and calls would be transferred to someone claiming to be a bank agent.

4. SMS message

Victims would also receive SMS messages, claiming to be from the bank, informing them that their ATM cards have been blocked or deactivated.

The victims would be asked to call a specific number to re-activate the ATM cards.

What public can do

The police has advised the public to be wary of unsolicited messages or calls from people claiming to be bank employees. 

The police also said internet banking details, such as their username or their personal identification number (PIN), should not be disclosed to anyone through phone, email or SMS.

Banks and government agencies will not ask anyone to disclose these details to them, the police said.

“Scammers may use caller ID spoofing technology to mask their actual phone number to display the bank’s number and logo as the profile picture on mobile applications such as Viber and WhatsApp,” the police added. 

Individuals should also not respond to digital token authentication requests via phone calls if they did not initiate any banking transaction.

“If you receive a suspicious call purportedly from your bank, hang up and call the hotline published on the bank’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. Do not call the number provided by the caller,” the police said.

Those who wish to report such scam calls can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit a report online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

To seek scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg.