Lawmaker pushes cybersecurity review amid Landbank depositors’ complaints | Inquirer News
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Lawmaker pushes cybersecurity review amid Landbank depositors’ complaints

A House bill seeking to clarify that the 10-percent preferential income tax rate applies to all proprietary educational institutions, including for-profit schools, is now up for plenary consideration.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda. FILE PHOTO

House tax chief and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has called for a system-wide review of banking cybersecurity after dozens of public school teachers complained that they lost money from their payroll accounts with the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank).

Salceda was alarmed by the incident, saying it happened just as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) was about to conclude its investigation into the hacking of more than 700 accounts in BDO Unibank last December.

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In both the BDO and Landbank incidents, the banks immediately claimed that the fund losses were isolated incidents of phishing scams. In the BDO incident, the bank compensated the 700 depositors who lost money.

On Tuesday, Landbank said its initial investigation showed that the incidents were isolated cases and that the teachers were victims of a “phishing” scam, but the victims disputed Landbank’s claim.

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“That means the problem isn’t just a case of one bank or another being negligent. I have no doubt these banks can do better, but the modus also appears to be very similar, and the destination accounts used also happen to be in similar banks,” he said.

“It’s even more alarming because the Landbank is the main government depository, and the vast majority of public sector employees have their hard-earned salary banked there,” Salceda said, adding that he wanted tougher cybersecurity measures to prevent criminals exploiting the Philippine banking system.

He proposed that banks should authorize withdrawals and transfers only from “registered devices.”

Release standards

Without saying whether the Landbank incident was a phishing attack or an outright breach of the bank’s computer systems, Salceda urged the BSP to immediately act on depositors’ appeal for help from the central bank as the banking sector regulator.

“The BSP can release standards for what constitutes ‘the user’s fault’ and what qualifies as ‘the bank’s fault.’ Anything that counts as the ‘bank’s fault’ should be its liability to the user,” he said.

On Thursday, the BSP said Landbank had already reached out to the affected customers and is working on the resolution of these cases at the soonest possible time.

“If the victims or complainants, after raising their concerns to the bank … are not satisfied with [Landbank’s] action, they may” bring the matter to the BSP, the regulator said.

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The BSP said its Consumer Protection and Market Conduct Office has a Consumer Assistance Mechanism which is a second-level recourse for consumers who have issues and/or disputes on financial products and services of BSFIs, or BSP-supervised financial institutions.

“Through the [mechanism], we elevate the concern to the senior management of the relevant BSFI [which is, in this case, Landbank],” the BSP said.

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TAGS: bank accounts, Cybersecurity, hacking, Joey Salceda, Landbank, Teachers
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