Singapore Banks To Allow Customers To Easily Freeze Accounts Amid Rise in Scam Cases
Updated: Dec 17, 2023
Major banks in Singapore are implementing a new security feature that would help protect customers' money from fraudsters.
According to the Straits Times, the new "money lock" feature allows customers to lock up their money to only be withdrawn in-person, effectively blocking digital transactions. It'll be introduced by UOB and OCBC on 30 November, while DBS plans to progressively roll it out between 27 November and 7 December.
The roll out of the feature reportedly comes amid a rise in scam cases in the country this year, including malware that enable fraudsters to take control of victims’ devices and siphon money out of their bank accounts.
Called LockAway, UOB’s take on the feature won't require a minimum initial deposit or balance. Existing cards also cannot be linked to the account for security reasons. Customers can still check their balances and deposit funds into their locked accounts via the bank's digital platforms. However, they won't be able to withdraw locked money from automated teller machines (ATMs). UOB did say that it's planning to offer this service in the future, depending on customer feedback.
"The enhanced account security better protects customers against digital threats, and protects them from reacting impulsively to scammer demands," said the UOB.
The bank's customers additionally cannot prematurely withdraw from their fixed deposit accounts online and must visit the bank’s branches to do so.
OCBC customers, in comparison, will be able to retrieve locked savings from ATMs using their debit or credit card and personal identification number.
The bank advises customers to lock only excess funds that they will not use in the foreseeable future. Additionally, they must have at least S$10 in their accounts to use the security feature, and they do not have to set up a separate account to lock up their savings.
"OCBC Money Lock is a much-needed safeguard that hampers scammers from quickly gaining access and transferring out an unwitting customer’s monies," said Mr Beaver Chua, Head of Anti-Fraud at OCBC’s group financial crime compliance department.
Both banks said that customers can lock up their money via the bank's respective digital apps or websites. Any locked funds held in the account will also continue to accrue interest.
DBS also has its own take on the future, which it dubbed digiVault. Here, customers can set up a new account to lock the funds with no minimum balance requirement. The bank will also allow customers to luck up their fixed deposit accounts, and once locked, it any premature digital fund transactions are prevented. The digiVault feature can be accessed within the digibank app of DBS under the "more" tab by 7 December.
"This reduces the risk of scammers prematurely withdrawing fixed deposit funds digitally should they gain unauthorised access to customers’ phones and accounts," said DBS Singapore Country Head Han Kwee Juan.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that while the "money lock" feature impacts the convenience of customers, it does limit the damage that scammers can cause in a short period of time.
UOB, OCBC and DBS are rolling out a new "money lock" feature allows customers to lock up their money to only be withdrawn in-person, effectively blocking digital transactions.
The feature will be introduced by UOB and OCBC on 30 November, while DBS plans to progressively roll it out between 27 November and 7 December.
MAS said that while the "money lock" feature impacts the convenience of customers, it does limit the damage that scammers can cause in a short period of time.