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Bill on hasher penalties for ATM, bank fraud advances


By Ellson A. Quismorio

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill defining hacking of bank systems and stealing 50 or more ATM or credit card details as economic sabotage carrying the penalties of life imprisonment and fines of up to P5 million.

House Bill (HB) No. 6710 sponsored on the floor by House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries Chairman and Eastern Samar lone Rep. Ben Evardone sailed through without any modification and was passed unanimously.

“The Lower House recognized the urgency of the need for a tougher law against criminals preying on the unsuspecting public and acted accordingly. This bill seeks to protect holders of more than 80 million ATM/credit cards currently in circulation,” said Evardone.

HB No. 6710 is the unified version of separate bills filed by Evardone and Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI.

Under the bill, unauthorized access through hacking or planting of a virus in a bank’s computer system resulting in corruption or theft of data is defined as economic sabotage, a non-bailable criminal offense carrying penalties of life imprisonment and fines of P1 million to P5 million.

The same penalties are to be imposed on card skimming/data theft that will affect 50 or more ATM-based accounts, credit cards, or online bank accounts.

Mere possession of a card skimming device or any similar gadget used for unauthorized harvest of account data – even if no actual theft takes place – is also punishable with imprisonment of six to 12 years and fines ranging from P300,000 to P500,000.

Quoting figures from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Evardone noted that there are 76 million debit and prepaid cards currently in circulation in addition to 8.5 million credit cards.

“Losses from ATM fraud have surged alarmingly from P175 million in 2012 to more than P600 million in 2016 – a 250 percent increase in just four years. Add to this the reported P500 million stolen through fraudulent credit card transactions in 2016 alone and one starts to get the scary picture. This has to stop,” Evardone said.

The bill will likewise increase security for OFW remittances totaling $33 billion each year as well as the growing e-commerce/online shopping sector, which accounted for P60 billion in revenues last year.

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