Salceda urges House to scrutinize banks’ protection of clients from hackers, scammers

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has urged the House of Representatives to scrutinize how banks are protecting their clients from hackers and other financial services scams that victimize depositors of their hard earned money.

Scams and weak cybersecurity, Salceda said, could discourage clients from availing of financial services or depositing in banks, and may think it better to just hide their money under their mattresses if they will just lose them to online criminals.

Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, will shortly file a resolution calling on the House Committee of Banks and Financial Intermediaries to assess the level of retail client protection among banks in the country, and another resolution with the Committee on Public Accounts to determine the preparedness of cybercrime prevention units under the Cybercrime law.

The lawmaker has also called on the Senate to pass HB 6768 or the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which was approved by the lower house in June last year, and now pends in the upper chamber.

HB 6768, authored by Salceda, aims to further protect the rights of financial consumers and safeguard them from investment fraud and other unfair practices. Financial consumers are persons or entities who are purchasers, lessees, or recipients of financial products or services that refer to savings, credit, insurance, pre-need, and health maintenance organization products and investments.

“Unfortunately, we do not have a comprehensive framework for protecting users of online financial services just yet. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deals with issues on a per-circumstance basis, but our laws are not yet there. As a result, scammers feel emboldened to cheat others of their hard-earned money, because the BSP cannot possibly be everywhere, monitoring financial products,” Salceda said.

Among the key provisions of the proposed measure, Salceda said is that it allows financial consumers to elevate their complaints to the BSP, and the BSP to file an independent civil action, if the banks do not handle complaints in a satisfactory way.

“Cybersecurity and online financial services user protection is still particularly lacking. User verification systems, identification

features, are still very susceptible. Users are also not properly or adequately informed about scams,” he noted.

“You look at the releases of banks about such scams, and you see that they place the onus of protecting money on their own users. They banked with you for a reason. They could have just hidden their money under the mattress. You charge fees to protect their money, and they’re not cheap fees compared to that of other countries. The least you could do is beef up your security measures,” he added, addressing his message to banks.