Bank hackers, ATM skimmers may face life imprisonment under new law

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2019 11:55 AM

MANILA- Hackers trying to access bank systems and personal online bank accounts can now face life imprisonment and up to P5 million in fines under a new law that classifies hacking and skimming as economic sabotage.

Republic Act No. 11449, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Aug. 28 but made public only Wednesday, amends Republic Act No. 8484 also known as the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998, to impose stiffer penalties to crimes involving skimming, forging of credit and debit cards, as well as possession of devices used to illegally access bank systems and accounts.

“The state declares that the commission of a crime using access devices is a form of economic sabotage and a heinous crime and shall be punishable to the maximum level allowed by law,” the law stated.

Under the new measure, hacking of a bank system as well as skimming of at least 50 debit or credit cards, and online bank accounts are considered as economic sabotage—a non-bailable offense—and carries a penalty of life imprisonment and fines ranging from P1 million to P5 million.

Possession of at least 10 counterfeit devices and the successful illegal access of an account meanwhile is punishable with jail time ranging from 12 to 20 years and a fine of at least P500,000.

However, if a person is caught in possession of at least 10 counterfeit devices but it was proven that he or she was unable to access any account, the penalties are adjusted to imprisonment ranging from 6 to 12 years and a fine of not less than P300,000.

Fraudulent use of a credit card on the other hand is punishable with imprisonment of 4 to 6 years, and a fine that is double that value of the fraudulently obtained credit.

Offenders of section 9 of the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 will meanwhile be meted with imprisonment of at least 12 to 20 years and an P800,000 penalty.

Offenses listed under the said section include producing and using counterfeit cards, and the illegal use of ATM and credit cards such as by trafficking and or possessing cards that were fraudulently applied for.

The measure also increases to at least P200,000 from P10,000 the amount of unpaid balance left for a minimum of 90 days before a credit card holder can be considered as having the intent to defraud.

It also grants additional powers to the National Bureau of Investigations and the Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police to pursue further investigations of fraud.