Cyber fraud case renews talks over the safety of online banking

After at least 40,000 people in Thailand were victims of online banking cyber fraud, the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau is renewing talks over the safety of such online transactions. The losses recently incurred by those using online banking are thought to be over 10 million baht after hackers stole credit and debit card information.

Kornchai Klayklueng, the commissioner of the CCIB, says the initial investigation revealed that hackers possibly used 3 channels to steal such information. The channels included: sending SMS to trick people into giving out their personal information, card holders who had linked their bank accounts with online applications, and stealing information from card holders making daily transactions at shops or gas stations.

The Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers’ Association issued statements late on Sunday that their initial investigations pointed towards the mobile banking system as not being hacked. They also said banking applications were not found to have illegally transferred customers’ money. But, the BOT then said the loss was estimated at 130 million baht and promised to reimburse customers of the losses and suspend any hacked cards. Then, the BOT and other commercial banks said many accounts showed numerous, suspicious transactions from online purchases abroad.

Niwet Arphawasin, commander-in-chief at the Technology Crime Investigation and Analysis Division, said that the recent fraud was achieved by hackers finding a loophole in the payment system. He also noted that some banks won’t notify customers if the amount taken illegally was nominal. As the new case featured many customers saying their accounts had illegal withdrawals of less than 100 baht, the loophole found seems to hold true to recent victimisations. Prinya Hom-anek, a cybersecurity expert, advised people to use a credit card instead of a debit card for future transactions.

“Credit card holders have to pay the money later, so they can refuse to make payments for goods or services they did not buy. In the case of debit card holders, the money is deducted from their accounts right away, making it difficult for them to make a case for refund when illegal transactions take place.”

Prinya also advised customers to not link their debit cards to their main savings accounts. Instead, he says they should create a separate bank account with a smaller balance. Furthermore, he says those who do not subscribe to SMS alerts on their account transactions put themselves at a higher risk of being a victim of fraud.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.