Reply to Parliamentary Question on preventing victims of scams from making outbound fund transfers
QUESTION NO 1310
NOTICE PAPER 803 OF 2021
FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 2 November 2021
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song, MP, Aljunied GRC
To ask the Prime Minister (a) whether there is currently a facility for an individual to prevent close family members whom they suspect are victims of scams from making outbound funds transfers from their bank accounts; and (b) what recourse do such families have to prevent unwitting loved ones from draining their savings due to such scams.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1 There is no facility to enable an individual to stop outbound fund transfers from the bank accounts of family members whom they suspect may become victims of scams. Banks generally act only upon the instructions of the account holder unless he has provided written consent and mandated another person to operate the account on his behalf. This is to protect the rights of the account holder.
2 But Mr Giam also asks how family members can help one another avoid becoming victims of scams. Anyone who suspects that a family member has been a victim of a scam, or is being targeted by scammers, should advise the family member to contact his or her bank and make a police report.
3 In the event that the suspected victim does not agree to do so, the concerned family member can contact the Singapore Police Anti-Scam Hotline, where trained staff are available to provide independent advice to the suspected victim.
4 We can help our family members to take pre-emptive measures to better protect themselves. We can share with them information and other resources on scam prevention. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) has a dedicated website – scamsalert.sg – which provides useful tips on how to identify and avoid falling prey to scams, as well as a mobile application – ScamShield – which will block scam calls based on a list of numbers maintained by the Police. We can also discuss with family members the banking facilities they require for daily use, and advise them to protect their accounts by setting appropriate transaction limits and lowering transaction alert thresholds. These are basic measures that can help them stay alert to unauthorised transfers and limit their financial losses in the event of an unauthorised transaction.
5MAS, together with the Singapore Police Force and the financial industry, will continue to look into measures to help consumers defend themselves against scams.