Lawmaker loses P236,000 to cloned ATM card

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 21 2014 02:52 AM | Updated as of May 21 2014 10:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A party-list representative lost nearly P236,000 in pension from the Social Security System (SSS) to automated teller machine (ATM) card hackers.

In a privilege speech, Rep. Cresente Paez of Cooperative Network Party said he had not been withdrawing from his savings account with United Coconut Planters Bank branch in Blue Ridge, Quezon City where his SSS pension is deposited.

“However, surprisingly, when I made a balance inquiry sometime in May 2013, I noticed that I had only P190.08 left in my pension account,” he said.

He said he immediately complained to UCPB but was told that from April 10 to 20, 2013, in 11 days, daily withdrawals of up to P20,000 were made from his account in various ATM terminals in Quezon City, San Pablo City and Boracay, for a total of P235,808.

He told his colleagues that he demanded from UCPB that he be refunded the withdrawn amount, since he did not make the withdrawals and the bank was supposed to safeguard his money.

Three months later, Paez said UCPB informed him that his ATM card was cloned when it was used at a Chinabank ATM outlet at the SM Mall in Cebu City.

“Likewise, the bank told me that being the cardholder, I should be the one responsible for the unfortunate incident,” he said.

He recalled that he made inquiries from Chinabank SM Cebu City branch, but that the bank said it should not be held responsible for the cloning and the unauthorized withdrawals.

He said he has again repeated his demand that UCPB refund him, and that he is still awaiting the bank’s reply.

“I am just one of the 1,272 cases of ATM card fraud in 2013 involving P220 million. Do we have existing laws or policies relative to the protection of bank depositors in case their ATM cards are compromised? Do our banks adopt security feature in ATM cards in order to combat card fraud?” he asked.

He wondered what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is doing to improve ATM card security and to address complaints about ATM fraud.

Paez said bank depositors take the responsibility to protect their ATM cards and even credit cards seriously.

However, if they are not at fault, he asked where and how they can seek redress.

He urged his colleagues to take measures to protect ATM account holders, help victims of ATM card cloning and prevent the occurrence of similar fraud in the future.