Credit card fraud in Philippines up 21% since pandemic

Ralf Rivas

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Credit card fraud in Philippines up 21% since pandemic
Credit card companies in the Philippines say a scam which involves swapping SIM cards to bypass one-time password checks is the most rampant scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – Credit card firms urged telecommunication companies and regulators to address credit card fraud stemming from SIM card swap schemes, as incidents rose 21% amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP), which comprises 18 major credit card players in the country, sent letters to Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, as well as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the House of Representatives, noting that the industry “has been experiencing high volumes of fraud cases causing financial detriment.”

CCAP said the “Virtual Account Take Over” scam had the highest number of incidents. The scam involves taking over and gaining access to the one-time passwords or OTPs of customers, enabling criminals to perform OTP-validated online transactions.

CCAP urged the telcos to tighten their existing Know Your Customer (KYC) processes when onboarding new prepaid and postpaid customers, particularly during the identity verification process where customers request to change mobile numbers when declaring a lost or stolen mobile unit.

“We respectfully request that this be addressed urgently. Perpetration of a successful unauthorized SIM swap will affect both the telcos’ and the banks’ customers, resulting in financial losses, loss of public trust and confidence, and close scrutiny from the regulators,” CCAP said.

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CCAP also pushed for the immediate enactment of House Bill No. 5793 and Senate Bill No. 2395, measures on SIM card registration which were approved on third and final reading in both chambers of Congress. 

The bills aim to create a system of sale and registration of SIM cards and to help law enforcers track down those who use mobile phones to engage in criminal activities.

CCAP also urged the NTC to establish ways for consumers to immediately report phone numbers being used for malicious intent. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.