‘Shift to online banking also led to rise in scams’

Online scammers are taking advantage of the unprecedented shift to digital, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) said, noting that clients should take safety measures against cyberfraud.

The Ayala-led bank said that digital platforms help in easing transactions, the public is also vulnerable to phishing scams.

“The easy migration of everyday activities online, particularly purchases and other transactional tasks, has been a great help in improving the quality of life for society. Unfortunately, scammers also saw an opportunity to step up their cybercrime schemes,” said BPI Enterprise Information Security Officer and Data Protection Officer Jonathan John B. Paz.

Citing a Kaspersky Lab report, BPI said that around 1.5 million phishing sites are created across the world monthly to hack sensitive data. In addition, the study revealed that Filipinos were more likely to fall victim to this kind of scams compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors.

BPI said that the usual phishing e-mails are related to Covid-19, offering cure, preferential priority for vaccines or any news on the matter.

These e-mails are tricking the public into providing personal data such as Internet and e-mail login credentials, credit-card details and government IDs, among others.

The bank also reminded its clients of another scam—vishing or voice call phishing. This tries to acquire one-time passwords and even enable SIM hijacking, BPI warned.

Apart from activating online banking security features, the bank is also urging its clients to be careful when transacting online.

Paz said to avoid oversharing personal data on social media. Refrain from using unprotected networks, like free public Wi-fi, when accomplishing important transactions, he explained.

The BPI official said that it was also best to use separate e-mail addresses for banking, social media, online forums and other activities.

Do not open suspicious file attachments as well, he added, because they are likely a phishing tool.

“We are doing our part in elevating our efforts to raise awareness on social media to regularly provide information about the latest scams and modus operandi to protect people from cybercrime,” Paz.

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