Public awareness and education is the main strategy to combat the rise in online crimes and scams here that target the elderly, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.
At the debate on the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Ong, who is on the board of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), highlighted areas in which MAS, the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the National Crime Prevention Council and banks have focused their efforts to prevent this vulnerable group from falling prey to criminals.
Mr Ong was responding to a question from Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang) on instituting measures and safeguards for banks to protect the elderly and vulnerable from scams and online crime, on behalf of Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is the Minister-in-charge of MAS.
“Such scams and crimes typically trick individuals into handing over their monies, through fake investment schemes or by using their personal information to access their bank accounts. The criminals reach out to their victims through telephone calls, messages and e-mails, even cyber attacks,” said Mr Ong.
On top of media campaigns, roadshows and community outreach programmes by public agencies, banks also advise their customers not to disclose their personal details to anyone.
Second, MAS has regulations and guidelines for the security of online transactions that have become the industry norm, said Mr Ong. For example, banks must use multi-factor authentication.
Fraud monitoring and detection systems are another prerequisite to detect and block suspicious transactions. Customers also receive real-time transaction alerts, so they can notify their banks of unauthorised transactions.
Third, when suspect bank accounts are identified, the SPF’s Anti-Scam Centre will freeze them as soon as possible.
Lastly, the SPF works with its foreign counterparts when a scam is cross-border in nature. Mr Ong said the Transnational Commercial Crime Task Force was set up to investigate scams such as the China officials impersonation scams and Internet love scams.
“It actively shares information with foreign law enforcement agencies, and where possible, works with them to mount joint operations,” he said.
Mr Ong also had advice for individuals on the receiving end of fraudulent requests.
First, people should never withdraw money from their accounts to pass to anyone, even if he claims to be from the authorities. They should never share personal and banking details, and if in doubt, call their loved ones or the anti-scam helpline, said Mr Ong.