By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to advocate for the rights of consumers and use its influence on banks to ensure fraud victims get their money back.
“Financial regulators are keen on throwing banks a line when they are deemed to be too big to fail. Equally, individuals deserve proper and timely support. People should be at the core of what government does and no one should be too small to ignore,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies.
The BSP itself earlier noted that people were still hesitant to transact online for fear of getting scammed or hacked, attributing such to lack of awareness.
Groups in social media have been created by victims of online bank fraud. One group collated data on the amounts people lost to fraud, with over 150 victims coming out and losses amounting to P7.5 million.
Poe said addressing the concerns of consumers and helping them get their hard-earned money back will help improve confidence in online transactions.
Overseas Filipino workers have also been victimized and some are fortunate enough to be in a different time zone and are awake when the crime happens that they get a chance to call the bank to freeze their accounts and limit their losses.
While the BSP’s chatbot where victims can raise their complaints is a good start and information campaigns to increase the awareness on how to avoid being a victim of fraud also help, heightened measures are demanded by the public.
“Some of the money stolen go to accounts that victims have identified. Banks are expected to timely and effectively act. Certainly, the BSP must leave no stone unturned in safeguarding the welfare of our consumers,” urged Poe.
Sponsored by Poe, Republic Act 11521 or An Act Further Amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act was timely passed and enacted in January this year. Such should also help equip regulators with a way of tracking the money trail to help resolve some cases. Coordination with other government agencies must also be improved.
“People have lost their jobs. They shouldn’t unduly lose their savings, too,” Poe lamented.
Recently, the BSP said it has received 23,000 complaints from the online chatbot on its website since it was activated last year.
The BSP wants half of all transactions in the country done digitally by 2023. Last year, the BSP said that the fear of getting scammed hindered the growth of e-payments in the country.
Banks and financial institutions under the BSP’s supervision are required to keep records of their transactions. (AI/MTVN)