Local banks to increase anti-scam measures including rapid account freezing, enhanced fraud surveillance systems

While customers might take longer to complete certain online transactions, the new measures will heighten the security on their funds.

Caleb Lau

Grew up a musician, found a calling in photography and writing. Still in love with all of them.

Published: 3 June 2022, 12:16 PM

After consultations with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Singapore Police Force (SPF), local banks will adopt additional measures by Oct 31 to further protect customers from digital banking scams. 

While customers may take longer to complete certain online banking transactions, these measures are necessary to achieve greater levels of security and protection of their funds, the MAS and Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said in a joint release on Thursday (Jun 2).

The five new initiatives consist of: additional customer confirmations required to process significant changes to customer accounts and other high-risk transactions identified through fraud surveillance; default online transaction limits to be set to $5,000 or lower; providing an emergency self-service “kill switch” to allow customers to suspend their accounts quickly if they suspect their accounts to be compromised; rapid account freezing and fund recovery operations done by co-locating bank staff at the SPF Anti-Scam Centre; and enhanced fraud surveillance systems taking into account broader ranges of scam scenarios.


MAS ABS measures SMS phishing scams
The MAS and ABS had previously introduced additional measures on Jan 19 to bolster the security of digital banking, in view of rising SMS-phishing scams targeting bank customers. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/STACEY TAY


To minimise the risk when navigating fraudulent websites, bank customers are strongly encouraged to use mobile banking apps instead of web browsers, the MAS and ABS said. 

To ensure a sustained investment in these anti-scam measures, an ABS Standing Committee on Fraud has been set up, comprising DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, United Overseas Bank, Citibank, Malayan Banking Berhad, Standard Chartered Bank and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

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

In addition, the MAS will soon finalise a framework to clarify how losses from scams are to be shared among consumers and financial institutions. This will then be put up for public consultation as part of a revision to the E-Payments User Protection Guidelines. 

ABS’ chairman Wee Ee Cheong said: “Combating scams, whether digital or otherwise, requires the effort and cooperation of everyone – banks, ecosystem players and also customers.

“Public awareness and staying vigilant are key. We are committed to work together with all stakeholders to uphold the trust and confidence of digital banking.”

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