SCAM victims should not have to bear more than S$100 to S$500 in losses, with banks and telcos bearing the rest of the costs instead, Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Jamus Lim suggested in Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 10).
In debating a parliamentary motion on digital safety, Prof Lim criticised the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) loss-sharing framework for phishing scams as “fundamentally unfair”.
Under MAS’ proposal, financial institutions should bear the full loss in the first instance, followed by telcos, if they had failed to protect consumers. If financial institutions and telcos have fulfilled certain pre-defined duties, consumers would bear the full cost.
Prof Lim argued that write-offs are typically a small fraction of a bank’s balance sheet, but the impact of scams can often be “ruinous” for the depositor.
He believes that the government should empower depositors with a more robust set of laws that offers financial protection to consumers.
Prof Lim acknowledged the argument that protecting customers from the consequences of scams creates a moral hazard, making them less likely to take precautions. However, he argued that requiring scam victims to absorb a “reasonable amount of loss” would motivate them to practice good cyber hygiene, similar to co-payments in most insurance plans.
This amount could be set at S$100 or S$500, he added.
According to Prof Lim, such an approach would also lead to financial institutions taking a stronger stance against scams. “Financial institutions will take more care to police phishing and fraud, since they can no longer pass on most of the costs of losses to consumers,” he said.
“There will also be a more pressing incentive to chase down transfers made to suspicious counterparties and they will no longer condone and authorise purchases made with ill-gotten money.”
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