House okays anti-skimming bill on 3rd reading

MANILA -- The House of Representatives has unanimously approved a bill that seeks to penalize the skimming of automated teller machine (ATM) cards, hacking a bank system, and unauthorized access to online bank applications and other fraudulent activities.

With 224 affirmative votes, lawmakers approved House Bill 6710, declaring as a form of economic sabotage and a heinous crime the hacking of bank systems and stealing 50 or more ATM or credit card details.

The bill penalizes such acts with life imprisonment plus fines ranging from PHP1 million to PHP5 million.

Skimming, as defined in the bill, is a "a type of fraud that occurs when an ATM is compromised by a disguised card reader that saves an ATM card number and its corresponding personal identification number (PIN)."

Meanwhile, hacking is the "unauthorized access into or interference in a computer system or server, or information and communication system in order to corrupt, steal, or alter without the knowledge or consent of the owner."

Mere possession of a card skimming device or any similar gadget used for unauthorized harvest of account data is also punishable with imprisonment of six to 12 years and fines ranging from PHP300,000 to PHP500,000.

Another salient feature of the bill is the enhanced security for remittances of overseas Filipino workers totaling USD33 billion each year, as well as for the e-commerce sector accounting for PHP60 billion in revenues last year.

House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries Chairman Ben Evardone, principal author of the bill, said the act aims to protect holders of more than 80 million ATM or credit cards.

Evardone cited the need to pass a stricter law "against criminals preying on the unsuspecting public."

Losses from ATM fraud have surged alarmingly from PHP175 million in 2012 to more than PHP600 million in 2016 -- a 250 percent increase in just four years. Add to this the reported PHP500 million stolen through fraudulent credit card transactions in 2016 alone and one starts to get the scary picture. This has to stop, said Evardone. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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