Macau Scams And Banks Telemarketing

According to a news report, people in Malaysia are falling victim to Macau scams or phone scams increasingly over the past 3 years. The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) finds this quite disturbing as this is an old scamming tactic. The report states that police have supposedly warned people about syndicates and fraudsters who contact them, posing as Bank Negara Malaysia officers, police officers or their bank officers. Nevertheless people still easily fall victim to Macau scams

However, can we blame these people for being so easily fooled? Macau scams involve a lot of psychological attack tactics that victims do not even realise because they are so subtle. In carrying out this kind of scam, it is necessary that the perpetrator appears authoritative and credible to the potential victim to encourage compliance. This is the reason they usually pose as officers of BNM, police or other banks and request victims to transfer their money to some “Datuk’s” bank account. Or they endeavour to appeal to desperate victims by saying that they have been approved for a loan with so and so bank and they just need to bank in a deposit of RMxxxx before they can receive the money promised. Fraudsters also aim to incite fear in victims so that they will make snap judgements in the fraudster’s favour.

What’s more, legitimate bank officers are in fact contacting their customers directly. It’s called telemarketing, a word that we should all be familiar with and will no doubt spark annoyance of different levels within many of us. Customers regularly receive SMS(s) or are personally phoned by their bank’s officers who feel it is imperative that customers know about the banks latest bank loan schemes and credit card deals and “gently” coerce them into signing up because “Interest is super low, only x%!” and “Spend now, Pay later, Live life!” and “You will get this awesome umbrella, look it’s so big!”.

Even so I digress, the point is with all this telemarketing by banks going around, how are customers suppose to be able to differentiate between fraudsters ad legitimate bank officers? Over the phone, there is no way for customers to tell if it is a scam or not. Not to mention, while these legitimate bank officers conducting telemarketing do not appear to have much authority, they do have credibility of the bank they are associated with to back them up and they do rely on customers snap judgement. Thus, one could say that the tactics of the legit and non-legit run along nearly the same lines.

As such, CAP request that all banks stop the practice of telemarketing. No institution, whether BNM, police or other banks, should be contacting customers directly, asking them to make decisions over the phone whether it has to do with their assets, approved loans or credit cards. Whether a problem or an opportunity, customers should always be asked to meet an officer at their bank if they are interested said problem or opportunity. When banks stop telemarketing, customers will know without a doubt, the next time they receive a call from their bank, BNM or police that it is a scam and will take appropriate action.

Letter to the press, 24 November 2014