26 OCBC customers lost S$140,000 to SMS phishing scams in 10 days, bank warns

No respectable bank will send you an SMS about something crucial.

Belmont Lay | December 27, 2021, 11:26 AM

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OCBC Bank warned that 26 customers lost a total of S$140,000 to phishing scams via SMS messages in 10 days, from Dec. 8 to 17.

The bank said in a warning on Dec. 24 that there has been a sharp rise in the number of such scams as a result of messages that appear to be sent by the bank.

"For the month of December so far, OCBC has detected and initiated the takedown of 45 phishing websites, about eight times more than the average takedown requests every month," the bank said.

How SMS phishing scams work

The modus operandi of the scammers is similar to previous phishing attempts.

The bank said members of the public have received unsolicited SMSes purportedly from the bank claiming there were issues with their bank accounts or credit cards.

The SMSes contain a link to a fraudulent website disguised as a legitimate bank website requesting banking information and passwords.

Bank doesn't send out SMSes

OCBC clarified that it would never send SMSes to customers with a link to reactivate their accounts, or to inform them of account closures or being locked out of their accounts temporarily.

OCBC said such matters "are always communicated via physical letters to prevent online fraud".

Recovery of lost money low

The bank also said it is trying to help customers recover funds lost through fraudulent transactions by working with the Singapore Police Force's Anti-Scam Centre.

However, the possibility of recovery is very low once the money has left the customer's account, the bank said.

How to spot scams

OCBC said customers need to take precautions to protect themselves.

Some of the bank's advice include:

• Never click on links provided in suspicious e-mails and SMSes.

• Always type the bank's URL directly into the address bar of a Web browser or use its official mobile banking app.

• Do not divulge banking login credentials or one-time passwords to anyone, or key such confidential information into unverified webpages.

• Do not transfer money to people you do not know.

• For those using iOS phones, download the ScamShield app, which blocks unsolicited messages and calls.

Customers who are in doubt about the authenticity of any SMSes received are advised to contact OCBC on 1800-363-3333, or +65-6363-3333 if overseas, for verification, it added.

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