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Standard Chartered Bank customers were recently left shocked when they received transaction alerts through SMS and emails for withdrawals of around Rs. 50,000 from their bank accounts without any action on their part. There were a few bank customers who did not even get any report through SMS or email but were made aware of the hack when their ATMs did not process their transactions and their debit cards were blocked. It is yet unclear that how many Standard Chartered customers were impacted with this hacking attempt, however, traces reveal that this incident siphoned off a huge money in a few seconds from Pakistan to England, where the headquarter of SCB is operated.
Early investigation reveals that SCB Pakistan ATMs were hacked from England
In desperate attempts, some of the customers who mainly maintained salary accounts, made phone calls to customers care support and few of them rushed to related branches to report the incident.
The bank initially responded positively to all affected customers and informed them that a hack on the bank’s online system was responsible for the inconvenience. These customers were assured that their stolen money would be reimbursed as soon as possible but it would take time to get the details of the affected customers and reimburse the money.
Things weren’t straight forward for everyone though. “When I contacted branch manager, he said that your account got trouble due to criminal activity”, an affected customer told ProPakistani. “I was advised to meet bankers working in the fraud department in order to get my money back.”, he added.
Despite the promise of quick action, there are many customers who have not been reimbursed their money yet, which is simply poor quality of customer service.
The inconvenience didn’t stop at stolen money. Customers were also deprived of debit card services as the hackers accessed data records of customers debit cards to transfer money from Pakistan to England. So in addition, customers’ debit cards were blocked by bank and such customers were asked to get their debit cards re-issued by SCB again.
“A recent skimming attempt at SCB ATM took place”, Farhan Ahmed, spokesman SCB Pakistan
Farhan Ahmed, spokesman of Standard Chartered Bank, said that attacks on the bank were not new. A recent skimming attempt at SCB ATM took place which is not unique but a common activity in the banking industry of Pakistan.
ATM skimming is a type of fraud which occurs when an ATM is compromised by a skimming device, a card reader which can be disguised to look like a part of the machine. The card reader saves the users’ card number and pin code, which is then replicated into a counterfeit copy for theft.
“The money in the customers’ bank accounts is insured and given to them in case of any such incident. The money of the customers is being reimbursed and majority of them received their cash in their accounts already”, he added.
It is an irony that despite the continuous growth in profitability and increase in customer base, the bank failed to equip its operations with advanced technology which could have prevented such a hacking attempt from being successful.
If foreign banks with international repute such as Standard Chartered Bank can’t ensure the security of their systems, how can people trust financial institutions and accept advanced service like mobile banking and internet banking?
Of course, incidents of fraud happen in advanced countries as well but in Pakistan perception is more than reality when it comes to banks and technology and this will surely deal a blow to the reputation of SCB in the country.