After credit card hack, Gatchalian urges Senate probe into rise of payment fraud

After a hacker was reportedly able to buy P1 million worth of liquor items using Senator Sherwin Gatchalian's credit card, the lawmaker called for a Senate probe into the proliferation of payment card fraud on Saturday, January 9.

On January 6, Gatchalian tweeted that his credit card was used to make 3 transactions, amounting to over P300,000 each, and one transaction amounting to almost P100,000, on food delivery platform Foodpanda.

Gatchalian said on Saturday that after tweeting about the incident, he received a barrage of complaints through email and Facebook posts claiming they had experienced similar cases of fraud through accessing devices.

The senator, who is vice chairperson of the Senate committee on banks and financial institutions, tapped the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to help get to the bottom of the P1-million hack, and was "stunned to discover" that there were plenty of similar cases that had taken place over recent months.

This happened even if the country has laws that are meant to crack down on cyber attacks and uphold consumer welfare. These include the Access Devices Regulation Act, the Electronic Commerce Act, the Cybercrime Prevention Act, Consumer Act of the Philippines, and the Data Privacy Act.

“Despite all the legal mechanisms in place, obviously there’s something amiss which could probably explain the reason why these crooks thrive in this kind of a scheme,” Gatchalian said.

Scams during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has paved the way for more Filipinos to use online and cashless transactions. Phishing and card fraud proliferated as Filipinos embraced online shopping.

In July 2020, phishing became the top cyber crime in the country during the pandemic. The NBI said reports of phishing cases to the agency increased by more than 200%.

The second most popular cyber crime was reported to be online selling scams. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered several organizations to stop operations over sketchy schemes.

In October 2020, the Bank of the Philippine Islands took down 2,000 phishing sites.

“It’s incumbent upon these banks and companies offering convenient electronic transactions to also guarantee the security and protection of their clients’ accounts and personal information," Gatchalian said.

"As they upgrade their services, they should expect those who will try to gain unauthorized access to be more sophisticated as well. They should provide a proper mechanism that will address the grievances of their customers,” he added. –

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.