Harsher penalties set against bank hacking, ATM skimming

Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Consumers are seen to benefit from a bill approved by the Senate on final reading that would criminalize and impose harsher penalties against hackers accessing online bank accounts and ATM skimming.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said Senate Bill 6710 declares the hacking of bank systems, as well as the skimming of ATMs, as a form of economic sabotage.

As such, violations now merit the harsher punishments under the bill that amended Republic Act 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998.

“It will serve as deterrent for committing hacking, skimming, etc. by declaring it as a form of economic sabotage. As such it would warrant a grave penalty,” Fonacier said.

Pia Bernadette Roman Tayag, managing director of the BSP Center for Learning and Inclusion Advocacy, said consumers are set to benefit from a new bill criminalizing hacking of bank systems and ATM skimming

“This is a welcome development. First, it can deter individuals from committing said activities as the measure specifically criminalizes the activity and impose stiffer penalties,” Tayag said.

Tayag added the bill also complements the cyber crime law that covers hacking. 

The bill, Tayag said, would also effectively cover partner merchants as they are now required to report to the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation card related frauds. Merchants must now be more vigilant and cautious in accepting credit and debit card transactions.

“Consumers will benefit from the above and can also, once passed, cite the specific law in case they become victims of payment card related fraud or crimes, but actions against perpetrators will still be filed in court with the assistance of the NBI/PNP,” Tayag said.

Tayag said the BSP has been doing its part in ensuring the safety and security of such transactions through regulation and enforcement as well as ensuring customer redress when necessary.

“Together, we hope this creates greater trust and certainty in the system, particularly for electronic payments,” Tayag said.

Prior to the bill, RA 8484 didn’t include in its scope crimes involving ATM fraud through skimming, the hacking of banking systems, and the counterfeiting of credit or debit cards.

With the amendment, the mere possession of skimming devices and attempts to access online banking accounts, regardless of whether or not money was stolen from the account holder, will be potentially punishable with imprisonment of up to 12 years.

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