Online banking scams in the Philippines are becoming rampant as technology advances over time. While online banking
is convenient, it also comes with certain risks. The money you've worked hard for could disappear in an instant the moment a hacker gains access to your bank account.
Apart from earning, saving, and investing, another life-saving skill you need to master when it comes to your finances is protecting your money against scammers who are out to make money from unsuspecting victims.
Knowing how the different banking scams work and how to avoid them can help protect yourself against these unfortunate events.
SIM Swap Scam
Hackers seem to never run out of creative ideas to deceive the banking public and make money out of it. Who would've thought that a simple mobile phone SIM card can be used for fraudulent activities?
What is SIM swapping?
Also known as "Palit SIM" scam, SIM swapping is a relatively new form of online fraud in the Philippines. Scammers pretend either as legitimate mobile subscribers or authorized representatives of a mobile subscriber and request telecommunication companies for SIM card replacement. Then, they use the mobile number to access their victims' personal information, including bank account and credit card details.
Just recently, a SIM swapping incident was reported
after a woman lost PHP 40,000 in her bank account. It turned out that someone had switched her SIM card without her knowing it, and then accessed her online banking account that's linked to her mobile phone number.
Another Pinoy fell victim to Palit SIM scam in 2015
, almost losing PHP 48,000 through unauthorized fund transfer. Interestingly, the suspect who requested for SIM replacement on the victim's behalf, apparently without his knowledge, was the victim's former colleague. According to the NBI, this allowed the hacker to collect the victim's personal information and use it for fraud.
How to avoid SIM swapping
- Keep yourself from oversharing your personal details on social media. Never disclose your birth date, mobile phone numbers, home address, email address, and other sensitive information in public. Be careful when sharing images that may expose these details in public—avoid posting pictures of your passport, IDs, visa, and other documents.
- Don't use the same email address for your online banking account and social media accounts. This way, hackers won't be able to access your bank account even if they get hold of your social media credentials.
- Report any data breach. When you notice any unauthorized transactions on your account, change your internet and mobile banking password right away and report the incident to your bank.
Have you noticed any unauthorized transactions from your bank account lately? If someone has withdrawn cash from your account without your knowledge, your ATM card may have been compromised due to ATM skimming.
What is ATM skimming?
Also called card skimming or data skimming, ATM skimming involves copying a bank account holder's personal information from the magnetic stripe on the back of an ATM card or credit card.
Scammers use illegal skimming devices to read the card's magnetic stripe and steal the details in it, making a fake or cloned card to access the owner's bank account and complete banking transactions like cash withdrawals and fund transfers.
How to avoid ATM skimming
- Replace your magnetic stripe card with an EMV card. EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) is a chip-based technology that provides better security than traditional cards. EMV cards prevent hackers from making a profit out of the details they steal. If you haven't shifted to an EMV chip-enabled card yet, you'd better visit the nearest branch of your issuing bank as soon as you can.
- Monitor your bank account and credit card statements. If you see any suspicious transaction, report it immediately to your bank.
- Protect your PIN at all times. Never share it with anyone. When using an ATM, cover the PIN pad with your hand.
- Be on the lookout for tampered ATMs. Before you insert your card into the slot, check if the PIN pad is loose, sticky, or has scratches—these are some signs of an ATM with a skimming device. For safety, use ATMs in well-lit areas with security cameras.
- Keep an eye on your card. When you're paying with your ATM, debit, or credit card, make sure that the cashier swipes it in your presence. Never allow anyone to swipe your card out of your sight.
[caption id="attachment_19239" align="aligncenter" width="1106"]
BPI has warned the public against fake emails that direct receivers to a fake BPI log-in page. The fake BPI page has recently been taken down.[/caption]
Phishing is one of the banking scams in the Philippines that continue to lure unsuspecting victims into providing their confidential data, allowing scammers to perform unauthorized transactions using the information they stole.
What is phishing?
Ever received an email supposedly from your bank that asks you to confirm your account information by clicking on a link? Be wary of this sign of email phishing. This illegal activity can trick you into filling out a form with your email password, credit card details, and other sensitive details via a fake website that looks similar to your bank's online banking facility.
How to avoid phishing
- Never reply to any email that asks for your personal data. Banks never request confidential information from their customers through email. So when you receive one, just ignore it and never click on the provided link.
- Watch out for signs of a phishing email. Look for misspellings, grammar errors, shady email address of the sender, and formatting inconsistencies—chances are the email is fake.
- Make sure your computer is protected against phishing attacks. Keep your anti-spyware and anti-virus software updated.
- Verify first if a banking website is legitimate before transacting. Be sure that the URL starts with "https" (not "http"), and there's a lock icon in the address bar.
- Always log out properly after using your bank's website. Also, clear your browser's cached memory after logging out of the site.
- Change your password regularly. When you detect any unusual activity on your bank account, or when you've provided confidential details, change your online banking password and notify your bank immediately. You can request to have your online banking access suspended to protect your account.
Losing your money to unscrupulous people
can be a harrowing experience. The government and banks in the Philippines are working on stricter measures to prevent these online banking scams, but you must also do your part in ensuring your online security and privacy.
Do you have other tips on avoiding banking scams? Share your comment below.