Senator Win Gatchalian urged regulators to strengthen consumer protection from various online financial frauds amid the continuing proliferation of such incidents especially with the onset of the Christmas holidays.
Gatchalian’s call echoed the recent warning to the public of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) of online scams that emerge during this time of the year when fake online shops selling counterfeit products are increasing and when scammers create more fake e-wallet apps or those that look like legitimate e-wallet apps.
“Sa pagpasok ng bonus season, ito ang panahon na mas marami na ring mga kawatan ang umaatake tulad ng nangyari noong mga nakaraang taon,” he added, underlining the importance for financial institutions like the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Insurance Commission (IC), and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) to bolster their cybersecurity measures.
In the case of banks, Gatchalian is zeroing in on the know-your-customer (KYC) processes and other e-wallet platforms, taking note that most banks now offer online opening of financial accounts. According to him, the KYC processes of financial organizations serve as a filter to determine whether the account holder is real or not and to establish some form of accountability.
“It’s about time that we put a lot of emphasis on what the regulators are implementing considering we have already enacted the law for the protection of consumers and financial products and services,” Gatchalian said. He is one of the authors of Republic Act No. 11765 or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act. Under the law, financial regulators are given broad powers to formulate their own standards and rules to protect consumers from financial fraudsters.
“This is also a shared responsibility, and consumers should be vigilant about safeguarding their personal information,” Gatchalian pointed out.
He stressed the crucial need for ensuring that financial customers are well-informed about the available remedies and redress procedures in case of fraud affecting their financial accounts. “We want our people to have confidence in our financial system. But if fraudsters can manipulate the system, such as pressuring banks to alter phone numbers without confirming with the account holders, that trust can be undermined,” he remarked, recalling a similar incident he personally experienced a few years ago.