Banks to have more anti-scam measures by Oct 31, including ‘kill switch’ to freeze accounts

SINGAPORE – An emergency self-service “kill switch” that lets customers freeze their bank accounts if they suspect that their accounts have been compromised is among a slew of measures that will be introduced to stop digital banking scams.

They will be implemented by Oct 31, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) on Thursday (June 2).

The measures complement those announced on Jan 19, which include the removal of clickable links in e-mails or SMSes sent to retail customers and having a delay of at least 12 hours before activation of a new soft token on a mobile device.

Among the added measures is having the default transaction limit for online fund transfers set to $5,000 or lower a day.

Additional customer confirmations will be required to process significant changes to customer accounts and other high-risk transactions identified through fraud surveillance.

Fraud surveillance will be bolstered as well to take into account a broader range of scam scenarios.

Banks will also facilitate rapid account freezing and fund recovery operations by co-locating bank staff at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) Anti-Scam Centre.

To minimise the risk of clicking on fraudulent websites, bank customers are strongly encouraged to use mobile banking apps, as opposed to Web browsers, said MAS and ABS in a joint statement.

“Banks will continue to enhance the functionality of their banking apps, and assist customers to make the transition towards greater use of these apps,” they added.

To ensure sustained investment in the industry’s anti-scam initiatives, an ABS standing committee on fraud, comprising the seven major local banks, including DBS Bank, UOB, OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered, will advance the work of the anti-scam task force established in 2020.

The committee will report directly to the ABS Council and will drive the industry’s anti-scam efforts, implement robust measures to safeguard customers, and reinforce public confidence in the security of digital banking, said MAS and ABS.

The ongoing anti-scam work of the industry will be formalised into five key areas covering customer education, authentication, fraud surveillance, customer handling, and recovery and equitable loss-sharing.

Customers can protect themselves against scams and stay updated on online banking hygiene practices by keeping up with scam advisories and alerts put out by the police, the National Crime Prevention Council, MAS and banks.

They should also refer to official sources, such as the MAS Financial Institution Directory and cards issued by banks for hotline numbers and website addresses to communicate with banks.

Customers should also use bank apps for their banking needs and not reveal their Internet banking credentials or passwords to anyone.