House bill wants ATM skimmers jailed for life, fined up to P5 million

MANILA, Philippines – A House bill seeks to penalize the skimming of at least 50 automated teller machine (ATM) cards with life imprisonment as well as a fine ranging from P1 million to P5 million.

House Bill (HB) Number 5934 was filed on Tuesday, July 4, by Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, the chairperson of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries.

He filed the bill two weeks after the committee probed the skimming incidents of several ATMs of BDO Unibank as well as the glitch in the system of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. (READ: BDO chief likens fight vs ATM skimming to running on treadmill)

The measure seeks to declare as a "crime of economic sabotage" the following:

In his bill, Evardone defined skimming as "a type of fraud which occurs when an ATM is compromised by a skimming device, a card reader which can be disguised to look like a part of the ATM and which saves the users' card number and pin code."

"With the fast advancement of technology came a new way of stealing one's money. Criminals and criminal syndicates were able to illegally access the various electronic medium of transactions and they were able to unlawfully appropriate to themselves the hard-earned money of others," Evardone said in his explanatory note for HB 5934.

The measure also seeks to increase the other penalties stated under Republic Act (RA) Number 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998. This law lays out the rules protecting consumers in commercial transactions that make use of access devices like credit cards. 

ATM skimming, however, is not part of RA 8484. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz / Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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