OCBC Bank has begun making goodwill payouts to its customers who had fallen prey to the recent SMS phishing scam impersonating the bank.
The affected customers started receiving the goodwill payouts from 8 January, and more than 30 customers have received them to date, OCBC said in a statement on Monday (17 January).
The payouts were â€œmade on goodwill basis after thorough verification, taking into account the circumstances of each caseâ€, the bank added.
OCBC did not specify the total amount of the payouts or whether affected customers would receive full compensation for the amount they lost. Yahoo Finance Singapore has contacted the bank for more details.
At least 469 victims have fallen prey to SMS phishing scams involving OCBC since 1 December, with reported losses amounting to at least S$8.5 million, according to a statement by the police issued on 30 December.
The scams happened when the bankâ€™s customers received unsolicited SMSes claiming that there were issues with their banking accounts, and asking them to click on links to resolve the issues.
After clicking on the links embedded in the text messages, victims would be redirected to fake bank websites and asked to key in their iBanking account login details. Victims would discover that they had been scammed when they received notifications informing them of unauthorised transactions charged to their bank accounts.
â€œThis scam was particularly aggressive and highly co-ordinated. It also preyed on peopleâ€™s fear that there was an issue with their bank accounts or credit cards. Past cases of SMS phishing scams largely targeted consumers with â€˜too good to be trueâ€™ deals,â€ OCBC said.
As the investigations into these cases are complex and extensive, the bank needed more time to get back to affected customers to address their concerns, OCBC said. A dedicated team had been set up to support the victims, it added.
â€œOCBC Bank acknowledged that its customer service and response fell short of our customersâ€™ expectations, especially at a time of stress and anxiety.â€
In a separate statement on Monday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it takes a serious view of the recent phishing scams involving OCBC.
â€œThey have significantly impacted several customers. OCBC has acknowledged that its incident response and customer service should have been better. MAS has been following up with the bank on these and broader issues relating to the incident,â€ said Ho Hern Shin, MASâ€™s deputy Managing director (Financial Supervision).
Ho said MAS expects all affected customers to be treated fairly and noted OCBC has begun to make payouts to the victims of the phishing scam.
â€œOCBC will conduct a thorough probe to identify the deficiencies in their processes and carry out the necessary remedial measures.â€
MAS will consider â€œappropriate supervisory actionsâ€ after the review, according to Ho.
In addition, MAS is working with the Association of Banks in Singapore on possible industry-wide measures to ensure that â€œdigital banking remains secure, efficient, and trustedâ€, Ho said.