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Hong Kong banks launch hotlines to combat phone scams

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 1, 2015
Consumers are urged to verify the identities of the cold-callers from banks before proceeding with any transactions over the phone or email.

Retail banks in Hong Kong have set up hotlines for customers to verify the identities of their employees as part of their efforts to battle cases of phone scams.

The hotlines are available through the retail banks' websites as well as that of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB).

Phone scams have been on the rise in the recent months, with scammers posing as bank employees trying to sell products to government departments, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Over the past couple of months, Hongkongers have been cheated of more than HK$182 million in cases that usually involved fake mainland officials.

Arthur Yuen, Deputy Chief Executive of the HKMA, reminded consumers that banks would never ask for full personal information of their clients over the phone or by email. Callers from retail banks will also provide their full name, phone extension number, direct telephone number, or staff ID number as "identifying numbers" when contacting clients. Consumers could then verify the callers' identity through the dedicated hotlines of the respective banks before proceeding with any transactions.

So far, banks in Hong Kong had only received 200 calls regarding cold-callers, Yuen told the SCMP. "The numbers are low — much lower than we anticipated. I think this is because there isn't this awareness among the public yet."

"We strongly suggest the public to stay vigilant against phone scams made in the name of banks and make use of the additional information provided by banks to confirm the veracity of such calls. It is our hope that the concerted effort adopted by the industry would help raise our customers' awareness on protecting themselves against such scams," said George Leung, HKAB's Acting Chairperson.   


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