BSP battles surge in complaints of account hacking

December 12, 2021 - 2:37 PM
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Illustration by Mohamed_hassan via Pixabay
  • Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is working with banks for remedial measures
  • Social media users complain of bank account hacking
  • Unionbank freezes some accounts

MANILA — The Philippine central bank is monitoring a surge in complaints of hacked bank accounts from some users of social media and working with consumer banks to resolve the issue, through measures such as reimbursements, its chief said on Sunday.

The bank is collaborating with the southeast Asian nation’s largest lender, BDO Unibank, and Unionbank of the Philippines to take remedial steps, including reimbursement, Governor Benjamin Diokno said.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will do everything to ensure the safety and integrity of the financial system, as well as the protection of financial consumers,” Diokno added in a statement.

BDO is looking into each case and will respond to those affected, it said in a statement, while Edwin Bautista, the president of Unionbank, told Reuters its clients were among the banks that received funds from BDO accounts.

Fewer than 10 Unionbank accounts that received funds from BDO accounts had already been frozen, Bautista said, adding that the bank was taking legal steps against users who permit use of their accounts for criminal activities.

The banks have not yet been able to estimate how much was diverted.

Criminals have occasionally targeted the Philippines‘ banking system.

In 2016, accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp received $81 million stolen by unknown criminals from the account of the Bangladesh central at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, before it vanished into Philippine casinos.

The thieves used fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system to execute their heist. —Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Clarence Fernandez