Drive launched to prevent dubious financial traps


Filipinos are being urged to be more vigilant against online scams and fraud as the adoption of digital transactions in the country accelerates, in part due to physical restrictions being imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

As such, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. has launched a financial education initiative, in partnership with other banking industry stakeholders, to serve as a public repository of information about various “scams, schemes and dubious financial traps” often used on unsuspecting victims.

Dubbed “Scam Proof,” the platform will also allow citizens to report potential fraudulent activity that will then be vetted by participating banks and partner regulatory agencies.

“As we celebrate International Fraud Awareness Week, we are proud to share with you this industry-wide initiative that aims to rally all Filipinos to band together to fight fraud,” Metrobank president Fabian Dee said.

“This is just the beginning,” he added. “We look forward to the participation of everyone. Through this platform, we can boost fraud prevention in our country and be ahead of those persistent scammers.”

Users of the site can learn about basic account security measures they can apply to their bank accounts, which can help protect their confidential banking information from scammers. There are also case samples and walkthroughs of how some scams work and what red flags to watch out for.

Users can also post their knowledge or experiences about the latest scams by submitting short descriptions of their encounter along with screenshots, if available. Scam Proof’s administrators then review the submission for vetting and possible showcasing.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) supports the launch of Scam Proof,” BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno said, as he shared the initiative was in line with the BSP’s strategic roadmap to accelerate the adoption of digital financial technologies and to ensure a safe payment ecosystem for customers and businesses.

“It is an important platform designed to increase consumer awareness and understanding of fraud and scams, and the ways of preventing the same,” he said.

Metrobank chief marketing officer Digs Dimagiba pointed out how the cases of financial fraud, especially online scams, have more than doubled since the start of the pandemic. He referred to a report by TransUnion, a New York-based analytics firm, which said that the number of fraud incidents in the Philippines in recent months have risen by 119 percent.

“Victims who fall prey to financial fraudsters don’t often know that they are being reeled into a scam, Scam Proof hopes to give power back to the people by giving them information on how to identify and ultimately prevent getting swindled,” he said.

The Scam Proof initiative is also supported by MullenLowe Treyna, who helped create the website. Institutions that are part of this initiative include the Chamber of Thrift Banks, Bank Marketing Association of the Philippines, the Credit Card Association of the Philippines, Philippine Savings Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., BDO Unibank and Citi, with the banks providing the initial antifraud content on the platform. —Daxim L. Lucas INQ

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