Bank Negara wages war on financial scams with new countermeasures, tighter security

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — In the wake of rising fraud activities, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) today announced that it has issued additional countermeasures and more security to the industry targeting the modus operandi of the latest financial scam tactics.

This includes a requirement for banks to migrate from SMS One Time Passwords (OTP) to more secure forms of authentication for online activities or transactions relating to opening new accounts, fund transfers, payments, and changes in personal information and device settings.

There would also be a cool-off period for first-time online banking service registrations, an updated fraud and detection response, a standardised Financial Process Exchange (FPX) interface, and a tighter verification process such as implementing real-time phone calls.

The central bank also said that banks will be required to set up dedicated hotlines to report scam incidents and create a greater awareness of new fraud tactics to ensure the public is extra vigilant in safeguarding their personal information.

Banks are also required to provide customers with convenient ways for customers to suspend their bank accounts if it is suspected to have been compromised, with the option to reactivate their accounts when it is secured.

However, BNM’s governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus acknowledged that the heightened security to put off scammers could leave consumers with a more inconvenient banking experience.

“For example, online banking transactions might take a little longer to process. Financial institutions will also conduct more checks when customers request to change or register a new phone number.

“Make no mistake, while these measures entail some inconvenience, they are important to protect the interests of customers,” Nor Shamsiah said at the launch of the financial crime exhibition today.

BNM said that these efforts were done in collaboration with the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), and the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) to further elevate the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) Scam Response Centre to prevent further losses.

The governor said further details on this initiative will be announced in due course.

She added that cooperation from telecommunication companies and tech platforms will also be key to filling any loopholes that can be exploited by the scammers.

“In short, all parties play an important role in strengthening our collective defences to deal with the threat of financial scams,” she said.

The central bank added that information on the latest scam tactics and measures on how individuals can arm themselves with knowledge against evolving scams can be found on the Amaran Scam Facebook page.

Since 2019, various countermeasures for financial scams have been put in place including a migration away from using SMS to notify customers of banking activities, removal of hyperlinks in emails and SMS, and blacklisting of accounts for suspicious banking activities.

But these countermeasures appear to be ineffective as the CCID reported a total of 71,833 scams totalling more than RM5.2 billion in losses from 2020 until May 2022.