MANILA – Financial consumers should always consider to change passwords of their bank-related accounts, especially if they suspect that their personal information has been compromised.
This was the advice of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to the public as issues about identity theft continue to rise.
“Identity theft or stealing of personal information to commit fraud is a crime that may seriously undermine a person’s finances, credit history and reputation,” the BSP said.
Aside from changing their passwords, people who suspect that their personal information were compromised need to immediately contact their creditors, initially those where the deceitful transaction transpired.
“The victim should likewise file a complaint before the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group or the NBI Cybercrime Division and keep a copy of the police report. Said report may be needed for the investigation of identity theft,” the BSP said.
The central bank also urges the public to cooperate with their banks when the latter ask for additional information to further improve security of their accounts and “to actively safeguard personal information to protect themselves from identity theft.”
“Increasing public awareness on frauds such as identity theft is an essential component of the BSP’s financial consumer protection agenda. A well-informed citizenry is essential to maintaining financial stability, which is a key policy objective of the BSP,” it added.
Identity theft issues have risen and among the reasons is the hacking of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) website last March, which placed some 55 million voters in jeopardy.
The police has arrested two suspects for the crime, identified as 23-year old Paul Zulueta and 23-year-old information technology graduate Jonel de Asis.
After the incident, banks said they have strengthened their information technology (IT) security to ensure the safety of their client’s personal information.
The BSP, in turn, said it is finalizing regulations targeted to further strengthen bank’s cybercrime maturity.
“We are now working on supplemental or additional regulations to further strengthen and increase the level of maturity of Philippine banks and other financial institutions. We consider it a very serious thing,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. earlier said.
Espenilla said the central bank conducted a comprehensive cybercrime preparedness assessment among industry players in 2014 “and that is the basis of our subsequent interventions for banks to prepare.”
He said the Bangladesh Bank heist last February, wherein US$ 81 million of the stolen funds ended in the Philippines, “is a good learning experience” to both the BSP and domestic banks.
“(It) made us more aware of the issues and we are happy to say that our banks are resilient to this,” he said.
The central bank official also cited the first-ever cybercrime security forum it participated in in December 2015 as a key in educating bank officials that cybercrime is not just for the information technology (IT) personnel but also the executives, who approve financing for resources to strengthen banks’ systems.