GCash and CICC to develop real-time response to online scams

GCash and CICC to develop real-time response to online scams

Philippine mobile payments platform GCash has reportedly signed an MoU with the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s cybercrime unit to set up a mechanism to tackle online scams and fraud cases more quickly.

Under the MoU – signed on Monday by G-Xchange and DICT’s Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) – both organisations will collaborate to develop a “rapid incident response” mechanism that enables affected parties to be alerted to fraud activities in real time.

According to the Business Mirror newspaper, DICT Secretary Ivan John E. Uy said one of the key challenges in combating online financial scams is that cybercriminals are often able to steal a significant amount of money before anyone realises that criminal activity is taking place. Uy added that in some cases, the response to reports of online fraud took up to two weeks because of a lack of coordination, the report said.

The plan under the MoU is to take pre-emptive steps to ensure phishing and other scams are identified quicky by detecting patterns of fraudulent activity and that financial institutions are notified immediately, Uy said at a press confernence. “Cybercriminals will not have that opportunity to scam so many more people because the pattern has already been identified at the onset and preventive measures have been put in place.”

That said, G-Xchange chief risk officer Ingrid Rose Ann Beroña said at the same press conference that the ability to address online scams in real time would vary from one case to another.

“It would still be a case to case basis at this point,” she said. “Sometimes, the time frame for us to resolve a specific issue relies on the cooperation of the person involved in the incident.”

According to ABS-CBN News, CICC executive director Alex Ramos added that users could help by reporting scams to the government’s hotline or the relevant service provider right away rather than posting it on social media.

“They have to report to the government so we can create the right policies," he said. "To get your money back, you don't go to social media. You go to GCash. Can you get your money back? Report!"

GCash is the largest mobile digital payments provider in the Philippines, with over 94 million users and 6 million merchants transacting on the platform.

Phishing and other online scams have been a perennial problem in the Philippines. The Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) said it recorded 19,884 cybercrimes in 2023 (up to December 7), of which over 55% were online scams.

The PNP AGC reported last week that reports of online scams for January 2024 were down 40% compared to the same period last year. The agency credited the drop to “ongoing establishment of PNP ACG offices in various regions, provinces and districts, combined with efforts to set up cybercrime desks within police stations.”

GCash says that in 2023 it blocked over 4 million fraudulent accounts, and took down 810 phishing sites and 45,000 malicious social media posts and accounts.

Last month, GCash added an embedded online scam protection feature for money transfers called Send Money Protect (SMP). The insurance feature costs PHP30 (around US$0.53) fpr 30 days and offers fraud protection of up to PHP15,000 for all Express Send transactions during the coverage period.

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