Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 28 February 2020

Reply to COS Cut on safer banking for elderly and all

For Parliament Sitting on 28 February 2020

Name and Constituency of MP
Mr Png Eng Huat, Hougang SMC

To require banks to institute measures and safeguards to protect the elderly and vulnerable from scams and online crime.

Answer by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, on behalf of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1     Online scams and crimes are on the rise. Every one of us can be targeted, but the elderly are especially vulnerable. Such scams and crimes typically trick individuals into handing over their monies, through fake investment schemes or by using their personal information to access their bank accounts. The criminals reach out to their victims through telephone calls, messages and emails, even cyber attacks

2     The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and our banks, have been working together to protect Singaporeans against these online crimes. Our efforts have focused on four main areas:  

3     First, raising public awareness. Public agencies have stepped up educational initiatives through media campaigns, roadshows and community outreach programmes. MoneySense, our national financial education programme, regularly puts out public messages to caution the public against online crimes and scams

4     Banks have also regularly remind their customers not to disclose account details, User IDs, passwords or SMS OTPs to anyone, no matter who they claim to be. Bank customers have also been encouraged to maintain strong cyber hygiene by installing anti-virus software and regularly updating it.
5     Second, MAS has issued various regulations and guidelines related to the security of online transactions. For example, banks must implement multi-factor authentication so that scammers cannot perform online transactions using only the User IDs and passwords of their victims. Fraud monitoring and detection systems are another prerequisite to facilitate timely detection and blocking of suspicious transactions. On a real-time basis, transaction alerts are sent to customers to allow them to quickly notify their banks of any unauthorised payment transactions. These security measures to curb unauthorised transactions, are now the industry norm in Singapore.

6     Third, we freeze accounts suspected of receiving the proceeds from online scams. Where specific bank accounts have been identified to be associated with scams, the SPF’s Anti-Scam Centre will freeze the relevant bank accounts as soon as possible. Doing so disrupts the scam operation and increases the chances of recovering victims’ monies.

7     Fourth, where the scam is cross border in nature, SPF will seek the co-operation of their foreign counterparts.

8     The Transnational Commercial Crime Task Force (TCTF) was set up in October 2017 to investigate transnational scams such as China Officials Impersonation Scams, Internet Love Scams and Credit-for-Sex scams. It actively shares information with foreign law enforcement agencies, and where possible, works with them to mount joint operations. Nine operations have been conducted since the set-up of TCTF, which resulted in at least 440 cases solved and the arrest of over 100 suspects regionally.

9     The sophistication of scams will continue to evolve. The cross border nature also poses additional challenges, and limits what our public agencies and banks can achieve on their own. That is why core to our anti-cyber scam strategy has to be public awareness and education, so that all of us remain vigilant and do not fall prey to cybercrimes.  

10     During Covid-19 we are all constantly reminded to wash our hands frequently, not to touch our faces unnecessarily and when we are unwell, go see a doctor and not go to school or work. These are the three key pieces of advice that we should practice.  

11     Likewise, the three key pieces of advice to fight cyber scams are: never draw money out from our account to pass to anyone – even if they claim to be from the authorities; never share your personal and banking details, especially your One-Time-Password (OTP) with anyone; and if in doubt, consult your loved ones, call the anti-scam helpline or visit NCPC’s Scam Alert website at

12     As the Police advise - “Don’t Panic, Don’t Believe, Don’t Give” (别慌。别信。别给。). MHA will elaborate about its strategies to address scams at its COS.