Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Personal data leaks could be an inside job in exchange for bribes, says expert

Corruption and a lack of integrity cited as authorities warn of pandemic-season scams.

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Experts say personal data can be leaked to third parties if those in the related institutions, whether public or private, accept bribes to do so, in the wake of warnings by the authorities of scams and cases of fraud especially during the pandemic season.

Malaysian Association of Certified Fraud Examiners president Akhbar Satar said the leak of personal data by irresponsible parties can be overcome through transparency and integrity on the part of the staff involved.

“Corruption and a lack of integrity among employees makes them bold enough to sell users’ personal data to outsiders,” he told MalaysiaNow.

The Inland Revenue Board recently warned the public to be wary of fraudulent syndicates disguised as taxmen, saying 18 reports involving over RM600,000 in losses had been lodged from Jan 1 until Feb 9 alone.

MalaysiaNow also previously reported that the Covid-19 pandemic had given crooks many opportunities to trick people out of their money, with a large number of scams related to financial assistance and loans to those affected by the economic downturn.

The nature of e-commerce, to which many had turned during the various lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the virus, has also given scammers a leg up.

Akhbar, who was previously head of Transparency International-Malaysia, said scams are less common in neighbouring Singapore.

“This is because they have high integrity and do not disclose personal information to outsiders.

“We should emulate them and steer clear of engaging in corrupt activities,” he said.

He said some victims may have a history of tax debts and are easily targeted by scammers who threaten them with legal action if they do not transfer the money.

“Crimes like this are widely reported by the media, but there are still many who are deceived by calls from those disguising themselves as the authorities.”

Even highly educated people and those with professional careers fall prey to such tactics, he added.

He urged consumers to exercise caution when receiving calls, especially from individuals claiming to be government officials.

“If you get a call saying you’re involved in a crime, or about tax payments, stop the conversation as soon as possible,” he said.

“Contact the relevant parties to check if you are really involved in any of the matters stated.”

He said users should also be careful about emails or text messages which display banking links.

“Try to avoid putting information in your phone such as bank passwords, because if the phone is stolen, criminals can immediately use this to withdraw money from your bank,” he added.

“The protection of personal data is important for the public so that it is not misused by others. Most importantly, do not be easily deceived when receiving calls that instruct you to make money transfers.”

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