Central bank issues warning over online financial scams

Central bank issues warning over online financial scams

The Bank of Thailand is warning consumers to be wary of online financial fraud as incidents have been increasing, with the pandemic pushing more people towards digital outlets.

The regulator raised the alarm as scams have been surging, with more people desperate for cash amid the pandemic. Digital fraud can take many forms, including SMS messages, or via the Line application, Facebook, digital lending apps and mobile phones.

Siritida Panomwon Na Ayudhya, the central bank's assistant governor for payment system policy and financial technology group, said the bank cooperates with other regulators, especially the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), to monitor and prevent online financial fraud.

The central bank is warning people not to believe information that appears fake or tries to trick users into carrying out financial transactions. People should scrutinise any suspicious transactions by rechecking with financial institutions directly, she said.

Consumers should not share their personal data and documents with others. The Bank of Thailand is cooperating with financial institutions to inform consumers about cases of fraud, Ms Siritida said.

The central bank plans to collaborate with financial institutions to promote financial literacy as a way to combat fraud. Online financial fraud is part of the agenda at the Bank of Thailand's Bangkok FinTech Fair 2021 scheduled to take place online from Oct 18-19.

Ms Siritida said the central bank approved financial institutions and fintech firms offering digital loans to allow consumers to access financial sources more easily. Existing digital processes and cybersecurity systems are sufficiently secure to provide digital loan services under central bank licensing, she said.

Consumers can apply for digital loans without visiting a bank branch for identity verification.

Tana Pothikamjorn, chief executive at Kasikorn Line, which offers digital loans via the Line BK platform, a venture by Kasikornbank and Line Corp, said in addition to financial literacy, the firm places importance on digital literacy, aiming to prevent consumers from falling victim to online financial fraud.

While digital financial fraud cases have risen significantly during the pandemic, the problem occurs on a case-by-case basis rather than a large-scale basis, said Mr Tana.

The maximum credit line for digital loans is usually around 100,000 baht per borrower, with an average of 50,000 baht. This amount is quite high for lower-income earners, who make up the majority of victims of online fraud cases and are also suffering from the impact of the pandemic, he said.

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