Higher penalties now await bank account hackers, credit card skimmers

Pia Ranada
Hacking a banking system can now land you in jail for life due to a new law imposing stiffer penalties for access device fraud

PUNISHING ILLEGAL ACCESS. A new law provides higher penalties for hacking and illegal access to banking accounts. Photo from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – Hacking into an online banking account or skimming credit cards and debit cards can land someone in jail for life, thanks to a new law.

Republic Act (RA) No. 11449, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 28, introduces stiffer penalties to the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 (RA No. 8484). The law was made public on Wednesday, September 25, by Malacañang.

The higher forms of punishment are for acts called access device fraud, like skimming or counterfeiting credit cards, payment cards, and debit cards; producing or possessing software or hardware for illegally accessing information; illegally accessing online or ATM banking accounts; and hacking.

The harshest penalty, that of life imprisonment with a fine of up to P5 million, is reserved for the hacking of an entire banking system, skimming of at least 50 payment cards, and access device fraud that affected at least 50 online banking accounts, credit cards, payment cards, and debit cards.

These kinds of acts are now considered “economic sabotage” and a “heinous crime,” according to the law.

Here are some of the new penalties for acts of access device fraud:

Possession of counterfeit access device – 2 to 20 years in jail plus fine equivalent to twice the aggregate amount of affected bank accounts.

But fine must be at least P500,000 if offender possesses 10 counterfeit access devices or unauthorized access devices and was able to access at least one account or had gained credit by the use of the devices.

Possession of 10 or more counterfeit access devices, but not proven to have accessed any account or gained any credit – 6 to 12 years jail time plus P300,000 fine or twice the equivalent of the aggregate amount of affected bank accounts

Fraudulent use of credit card – 4 to 6 years jail time plus fine of twice the value of fraudulently obtained credit without prejudice to civil liability

Hacking of banking system or skimming at least 50 payment cards or illegal access to at least 50 online banking accounts, credit cards, payment cards, and debit cards  Life imprisonment plus fine of P1 million to P5 million

– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.