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Safe and reliable digital banking for OFWs

The country’s first branchless digital-only bank warns users on cybersecurity risks. 09 January 2023, Manila, Philippines – As more Filipinos continue to make the shift to online banking and digital payments amid the post- pandemic era, cybercriminals are on the rise to take advantage of human and system vulnerabilities.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) 2021 cyber threats surveillance, the top three types of cyber incidents reported by its supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) were: phishing, “card not present” fraud, and identity theft. In 2021 alone, the Bankers Association of the Philippines revealed that unauthorized withdrawals and transfers reached more than 1 billion amid the rise of cybercrime.

Consumers found a safeguard against these threats with the passing into law of RA No. 11765 or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act (FCPA) in June 2021. This law aims to strengthen consumer protection mechanisms and authorized regulators such as BSP and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to enforce the law on banks and financial institutions.

“Consumer welfare is a continuing agenda of the BSP. We enjoin financial institutions, bank organizations, and relevant partners and stakeholders to push consumer protection initiatives forward as the responsibility is too great for any entity to take on singly,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) President and CEO Leila Martin said in an interview, “OFBank, as an example, uses technology to minimize risks to its clients – from the very first step of opening an account on its digital platform. Consumer protection is enhanced through the OFBank Mobile App, which utilizes artificial intelligence to facilitate an electronic know- your-customer (e-KYC) process to verify and validate uploaded application information and requirements. The app also has advanced encryption and security technology that protects sensitive information.”

While OFBank continues to enhance its digital security, Martin adds that cybersecurity is a two-way street wherein customers play a significant role. Mindful online behavior reinforces the security that technology solutions provide.

Here are some measures that could help give you more peace of mind while doing digital banking transactions.

OFBank reminds its customers to not give their personal information, including their bank details,
answers to security questions, and one-time passwords, to avoid being an online fraud victim.

1. Make sure to only access secure platforms.

Consumers lodged before the BSP complaints involving a total of P2 billion worth of financial transactions from 2019 to 2021, some of which involved scams as well as hacking and phishing incidents.

Beware of phishing emails and text messages. Always type the complete web address on the web browser and never click links from random messages. Better if you bookmark the OFBank website or any other official banking website to ensure your safety before performing any financial transaction online.

2. Protect yourself from online attacks.

Installing and keeping your anti-virus software updated on your personal computer is essential in combatting threats and malicious activities that may compromise your information. It is also best to activate the 2-factor authentication process on your accounts as a standard measure, to complement the one-time-password (OTP) requirement to push through with banking transactions. For instance, OFBank account holders could receive OTPs via SMS or activate the OTP generator functionality of their mobile app.

3.Limit accessing your accounts using public computers or connections.

Using public devices and internet connections make your banking details at risk from cyber attackers. Always sign up with a secure internet connection while making payments online.

But if you must use one, make sure to not save your password and delete your downloaded files. Avoid risking your data by clearing the cache and history of the browser that you’ve used, and by emptying any files into the recycle bin.

4. Refrain from asking for help or divulging your personal information to anyone.

One of the most common ways that lead to banking fraud is identity theft. In this case, the scammer gets a hold of someone’s personal information such as an address, mother’s maiden name, mobile/telephone numbers, social security number, bank account number, and e-mail address. Never share these details with an unknown and unauthorized person over calls or texts. Banks generally employ similar Know-Your-Customer approaches. However, it is still best to verify the call before responding.

5. Check your transactions.

Always know your balance by regularly checking your transaction history details and statements. This ensures that no unauthorized transactions are compromising your account. The best way to avoid unauthorized transactions is with the help of OTPs, which OFBank has on default on its app.

With the ever-evolving Internet banking environment, it is essential to outsmart cybercriminals by learning ways to prevent online fraud. Your best shot comes when safeguarding your online transactions by keeping mindful behavior and choosing a safe and reliable digital bank.


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