How does the recent spate of banking scams in Singapore affect you? What can you do there? Find out in the article below.
On February 20, 2022, Singapore police announced that they had arrested 13 people suspected of involvement in a recent string of bank phishing scams. These scams had ensnared nearly 800 OCBC Bank users and inflicted a total of $13.7 million in losses on them.
In this article, we’ll explore how your choice of bank account in Singapore, as well as some steps you can take, can help you avoid falling prey to such scams and losing your money.
Why are banking scams on the rise in Singapore?
As Singapore moves towards a “cashless society”, more and more monetary transactions are taking place online. Some transactions, which in the past could only be done at a physical bank, can now be done from anywhere via an internet-connected device.
The increased use of digital services means that those unfamiliar with new technology (and even some of those who are) are more vulnerable to online scams.
For example, in recent OCBC phishing scams, users received a text message that resembled ones the bank had previously sent – however, the link in the text message did not lead to the bank’s official website. Scam victims were unable to distinguish between real and fraudulent links, although a closer look might have.
Although advances in technology have made banking transactions much more convenient, they have also helped scammers. For example, in a few recent cases, scammers have used Google Ads to direct Maybank users to a fraudulent customer service hotline. The scammers also sent SMS messages in the same SMS thread used by a bank to send legitimate messages. Online banking scams have become more sophisticated and pose an increased threat to banks and their customers.
How do I know if I am the victim of an online scam?
Although it’s often hard to tell if you’ve been tricked into an online banking scam, there are some signs that can help you identify them. If you are unsure if you are facing a scam, you can call the hotline on your bank’s official website to verify the authenticity of the message or email you received.
The SMS contains a suspicious link
Many online banking scams involve a victim receiving a text message and then clicking on a link that takes them to the phishing site. These links often appear to be sent by a bank. It is advised not to click on the links present in these messages, in particular the “shortcut” links, such as bit.ly links.
The best and safest option is to access your account through your bank’s official banking or payment app, or access the site directly through your device’s internet browser. You can then perform your transactions in the app. For example, DBS has a digibank mobile app and a Paylah mobile payment app.
The SMS contains a request for credit card details, account details or one-time password (OTP)
If you receive a message asking you to reveal your credit card or account details or a one-time password (OTP), it is most likely a scam. Common reasons provided by scammers are that they need this information to verify or unlock your account, or that you have won a prize and need to submit your information to redeem it.
For example, in the Maybank Google Ads banking scam, scammers convinced victims that their accounts were frozen as part of an anti-scam initiative by the police. To unblock their accounts, the victims were told that they had to transfer money to a new account. This caused the victims to lose their money.
The website you are being redirected to has a suspicious domain name/URL
Before entering your details on a bank’s web page or making any transactions, make sure you are on the bank’s official website. You can do this by checking the URL bar for the website’s domain name. Phishing sites tend to have URLs that are unrelated to the bank or are a variation of the bank’s name.
For example, a fake DBS Rewards site was found to be using the URL [word].ursreward.com. The legitimate DBS site is dbs.com.sg.
The text or website you are directed to contains typographical or design errors
If you receive a text message purporting to be from a bank and it contains typographical errors, it is most likely a scam. The same principle applies to websites to which you are directed.
How can a secure savings bank account protect you?
In light of the recent spate of banking scams in Singapore, Singapore banks have put in place measures to protect customers. These measures are intended to make it more difficult for scammers to obtain users’ personal data, as well as to buy time for resolving breaches. Some of the measures Singapore banks have agreed to implement are:
Introduced a minimum 12-hour delay before you can activate a digital soft token for your account Removed clickable links in text messages and emails sent to consumers.
Have specialized customer service teams to respond quickly to reports of fraudulent incidents. Reinforce their anti-fraud education action. Implement a cooling-off period before allowing major changes to an account, such as changes to user contact details
To further combat banking scams, banks are also considering new measures such as biometric authentication and the ability for customers to freeze their accounts without contacting their bank.
This will further help protect bank users from online scams.
What are the best secure savings bank accounts?
Thanks to measures put in place in response to recent cases of scams, bank savings accounts in Singapore are now more secure. Here are some of the best high interest savings accounts and savings plans in Singapore that you could consider.
OCBC 360 Account: Competing Interest for Additional Savers
Promo: Get Up To $50 Cash Back For New OCBC Debit Cardholder
Consider this if You are a constant saver with a stable budget
- New OCBC Pay Everyone can get an extra $10 off. Promotion valid for people who register between October 1, 2021 and January 31, 2022.
Standard Chartered Bonus$aver account: highest effective interest rate
Promo: Eligible customers can get an Apple Airpods Gen 3 + Apple AirTag bundle ($314) or $300 cash
Consider this if You are a high income earner open to a banking relationship with Standard Chartered
- Applicable to new customers (i.e. no Bonus$aver account and/or Bonus$aver credit card account has been suspended, canceled or terminated in the last 12 months)
- Promotion period: February 8 – March 1, 2022
Market-leading effective interest rate: DBS Multiplier Account
Consider this if You are a DBS devotee who earns a lot of money and is financially savvy
Relying solely on the bank’s anti-scam measures is not enough to avoid banking scams in Singapore. Bank users must also exercise discretion and remain vigilant so as not to fall in love with them.
This article was first published in ChampionValue.