Monday, November 29, 2021

   PayNow case:  UOB says 'Not our fault'

 My friend Julie is totally pissed off. After more than three months of waiting for something to be done about her daughter Natalie's suspected PayNow fraud case (see story below), it appears that they are back at square one.

    United Overseas Bank, which Natalie has an account and had $1,000 deducted mysteriously, has finally responded in a letter dated November 8, basically saying that it was not at fault.

    It says in the letter: "According to our system, a PayNow transaction of S$1,000 was deducted from your UOB One Account on 24 August 2021 through UOB Personal Internet Banking (PIB). Please note that for such a transaction to be processed, it requires the customer to log in to the UOB PIB service with a valid username and password followed by 2-Factor Authentication SMS one-time password (OTP) which is sent to the customer's phone number registered with the bank.

    "Our records show that the SMS OTP was sent to your registered mobile number ending with 2226 at 2.37pm on 24 August 2021 and this SMS OTP was verified at 2.40 pm on the same day. This indicates the successful login to PIB.

   "We have checked the SMS messages that were sent to your registered mobile number."

   What's interesting is that the bank, in the next paragraph, says "PayNow transactions can be done without the need for additional authorisation with a hard/digital token for transaction amounts less than or equal to S$1,000."

    This begs the question: So why did the bank say it sent Natalie the OTP message when the amount deducted was $1,000? Natalie says the OTP did not appear on her phone.

    Another obvious question is, what about the Elephant in the Room? i.e. the recipient of the $1,000. No one seems to be interested in finding out who this person is?

    Surely he/she could be traced as the name/ID was given in the SMS message to Natalie. Julie says the bank has refused to disclose whether this person has an account with the bank, citing client confidentiality.

    Meanwhile, Julie has turned to her MP for help as the newspapers have declined to publish her story and there has been no progress report from the police.  

    Which, understandably, has led Julie to this conclusion:  "I am small fry and small cracker who cannot command the loud noise that the big shots can. That's why I am so pissed with the bank. If Nat is a wealthy or well-known client, would they treat her like a criminal who robs her own account?"

    She says her main objective is to apprehend the perpetrator as the bank says its system is not at fault.

    "But I think the onus is on the bank to help its 'valued' account holder and make things right instead of passing the buck to the client and the police. It is utterly wrong and irresponsible. 

    "Besides, its response is offensive, insulting and arrogant."

    The bigger question, however, is still  "IS OUR PAYNOW SYSTEM SAFE?"  

    Until UOB, the police and MAS succeed in cracking this mystery, the doubt will always remain,


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

 Is PayNow safe?

My friend Julie raised eyebrows last month when she posed this question in her Facebook account: Is PayNow safe?

She was relating her daughter's traumatic experience on August 24 at 2.45 pm when she received an SMS that says a PayNow transaction of $1,000 to someone she did not know (see bank notification) was successful.

At that time her daughter Natalie was watching Netflix at home and her phone was with her. "How could anyone make a PayNow payment from her UOB account without her mobile phone?" Julie would like to know.

Natalie immediately called up the bank but her call was not picked up till around 3pm. She spoke with an officer who was not able to explain how the transaction was possible. The officer advised her to make a police report before the bank could return her the missing amount. 

Mum and daughter rushed to the Serangoon Garden Police Post where the officer asked Natalie if anyone knew her bank account number. As it is a salary account, no one, except her company payroll department, should know, Julie says. "But that was beside the point because PayNow is supposed to be transacted using the mobile device. Unless there is another PayNow method that we’re not aware of."

Natalie then tried to send a copy of the police report via the email address the bank officer had provided, but it kept bouncing back. They had no choice but to rush to the UOB office in Suntec City to submit it personally. Natalie also terminated her current account and reopened a new one just to be safe.

What was infuriating was that none of the bank officers they spoke to could explain how the transaction was able to go through all the bank's security system.
When Natalie finally managed to connect by phone with UOB again, another officer told her it was in the hands of the police and her lost fund would only be returned after investigation. "Which means that the first officer had misled my daughter into thinking that a police report was a formality before they refunded her. Why couldn’t they check or do their own investigation immediately?" Julie asks.

After three weeks, what remains a mystery and of concern is how someone could access Natalie's bank account to pay by PayNow without the required device, her mobile.
Julie has the following questions for the bank to answer:

1. Is PayNow safe?
2. Is her UOB bank account at risk?
3. Why was not an OTP sent to her mobile, whilst a notification of successful transaction was sent to it?
4. Why was this amount transferred without an OTP security clearance?

Today (September 15), Julie has given an update on the situation in her Facebook account...

"To friends who have been concerned.

... the bank is dragging its feet over this lapse. It has been more than three weeks since this incident and I’ve not heard from them. Yesterday, we made a third trip to the UOB bank at Suntec to remind them that the stolen fund has not been restored and to expedite their processes.

This was my first meeting with the bank manager. I must say he was rather understanding and concerned and has given the word that he’ll “chase” those working on the case. Frankly in my opinion, they can take all the time in the world to investigate, but their first priority is to ensure that their client’s trust and confidence are not shaken.

 Their system failed us because it didn’t send the security OTP clearance that was required before releasing the fund. Therefore, it was an unauthorised transaction and it’s the bank’s responsibility to make restitution for their system failure. 

Why must my daughter lose her saving through no fault of hers? As far as we are concerned it’s not even a scam. It’s a theft that could have been prevented had the bank done its due diligence."

The bank will be contacted for its comments.

Why is UOB accusing us of wrongdoing?

LATEST:  Sept 30.

UOB has not responded to our request for comments.

Meanwhile, Julie informs me on Whatsapp that an officer (Angela) from the bank contacted Natalie and "audaciously implied that she did it to pay for Shopee.  Insisted they sent an OTP and also revealed that the recipient is from NUS, that the fund was sent to an IP (internet protocol) address, and whether Natalie worked in NUS and knew this person?"

An IP address is a unique address that identifies a device on the internet or a local network. The protocol is a set of rules governing the format of data sent via the internet or local network.

Julie says the officer "kept harassing her to admit she knows such a person and she paid for merchandise.

"Then she was asked to go back to the police with more info, meaning that she hadn't told the full story or she was hiding something."

Julie describes the conversation between the bank officer and Natalie as "downright bullying'', wanting  her to say something they would like to hear".

Another thing that was inconsistent in the alleged purchase, Julie says, was the mode of payment. Natalie always pays for her Shopee stuff by credit card and not from her bank account.  

What is getting Julie depressed is "their harassment and insistence that my daughter did it. Do you think she's stupid? Why would she do such a thing to her own money and then report it?

"Someone took her money from her bank account and the bank turns around and points finger at her integrity. Would you not feel what we feel if it had happened to you?

"You entrust your savings to an institution and that institution lost it through no fault of yours, yet turns around and accuses you of wrongdoing! Where is the justice?"

After more than a month since the incident, it is indeed puzzling why the bank and the police have not been able to give Julie and her daughter some satisfactory updates. The name of the recipient is known. Surely they would have contacted this person and found out from him/her many things which we would all like to know.  

For example, if the bank says Natalie had purchased something from Shopee, what was it that she had purchased that cost $1,000, an amount that is beyond her purchase limit?

We would also like to know the identity of the recipient and whether or not he was indeed a seller of goods? 
If so, whether the recipient is registered with Shopee as a retailer? This can easily be verified with Shopee.

Most importantly, the bank has to assure us that its PayNow system, already an established form of electronic payment here, is really robust and secure. This question has to be resolved quickly as the consequences of delay are unimaginable.  There cannot be any doubt cast on its integrity.

Needless to say, the sooner those in charge get moving and provide us with the answers, the faster will our minds be at ease.

UPDATE -- October 13

Julie asks her MP for help

Last week, a police officer called to assure me that they are looking into the case. I had earlier alerted them to my blog. 

Today, Natalie's mother Julie told me that she had asked MP Dr Tan Wu Meng (Clementi) for help as she remembers him as the parliamentarian who had recently called on the Monetary Authority of Singapore to investigate OTP cases.

"Dr Tan in turn got my Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh to call me," Julie said. "Mr Gan assured me he would help me with the case."

It's been almost two months since this story broke. We can well understand why Julie had to contact Dr Tan for help. Because to date, nothing has happened to give Natalie and her mum some comfort.  

And to think we are a financial centre known for our efficiency!!!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Singapore Airlines -- a grate way to fly

Now I can understand why Singapore Airlines is no longer the world's best airline.

I do not travel as often as I would like to, but each time that I do, more often than not, I would encounter something that would upset me or my fellow travellers.

The latest is my upcoming trip to Phuket. I had booked online four economy-class tickets earlier this month. This included paying for our seat selections, a marketing strategy that obviously is profit-oriented but cleverly promoted as one of service.

Having settled the hassle of maneuvering through the still unfriendly website, I thought I could relax and just look forward to the holiday.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Last Saturday, as I was checking my email, out popped a bunch of messages from the airline informing us of a change in flight schedules and operating aircraft, together with seat allocations that were arbitrarily done, never mind the fact that we had paid for our selections.

Of course, the airline promised to refund the seat selection fee, but that was not the issue I had problem with.

My unhappiness was that the airline had conveniently given us alternative seats that were way back in the new aircraft.  Why couldn't it have assigned seats in a similar location? After all, I had taken the trouble to book early and surely deserved the right to have equivalent seats.

It was obvious that the airline didn't bother considering our right because when I called the hotline to complain (vigorously, I might add), more acceptable seats were offered.  The question is, why couldn't this have been done in the first place?

Was this because it was dealing with 'cattle-class' customers who could easily be ignored, or maybe pacified by simply refunding their seat selection fee?

Such high-handedness, I must say, leaves a very sour taste in the mouth.

As a customer, I can accept unexpected changes and disruptions in flight schedules and the attendant consequences. But when they happen, is it too much to expect a little bit more consideration, even for the cattle class?

 I believe the airline knows the hassle one has to go through trying to get in touch with its customer service officers whenever such a disruption occurs. And one cannot help but feel that it makes a deliberate effort to avoid speaking to its customers.

As a Singaporean, I have been proud to see our airline flying high for so many years. However, it is sad to note that with intense competition from the Middle Eastern airlines, it is struggling to maintain, what it used to boast about, the "service that other airlines talk about".

My feeling is that complacency has started to set in. However, my biggest fear is that it has somewhat lost its way while it was up there in the stratosphere -- and there is no longer Lee Kuan Yew around to bring it down to earth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bee Choo's a gem
It's been more than a year since my last post. I am back at it today as I've just met someone at the National Eye Centre who went the extra mile to show exemplary service.

Although I had told her that I appreciated what she did, I thought I should put it down on record if only to remind me that there are still many around us who know the meaning of service.

I went to the eye centre this morning - with a lingering concern - for what is known as a "pre-op" check-up before my cataract surgery next month.

I told the woman who handles admin matters about it. She was kind enough to pick up the phone to check whether I could see the doctor for "just three minutes".  No luck. Doc was overwhelmed with patients.

The next stop -- to check my heart and take my blood pressure -- was where I met nurse Bee Choo and her colleague.

Procedure done, I got talking to her while waiting for a report to be signed.  I told her of my concern over my astigmatism and a few other things.

Bee Choo, cheery and articulate, readily answered and explained every query I threw at her.

I asked whether my surgery was going to be laser-assisted or by ultrasound.  Off she went and before long, was back to say it would be the latter.

On my failed attempt to talk to the doctor, she assured me confidently that she would pop into his clinic to clarify with him about my concern.

Know what?  By the time I finished paying my bill, she was ready with the answer.

Bee Choo obviously has a way with people. She's a gem, no doubt.

Image result for images of a bouquetA bouquet for the lovely lady

Monday, March 20, 2017

Len gives Devi of URA a bouquet

My friend Len makes it a point to show his appreciation whenever he comes across service staff who makes an effort to understand his problem and feedback.

He wrote this note (below) to me to convey his "thank you" to the URA lady who attended to him.  I had earlier alerted the statutory board to his feedback in my blog.

What's more sweet of Len is his offer of our symbolic bouquet 🌹🌹🌹 to that pleasant lady. 
URA Website Saga

Thank you for helping me get the attention of the URA concerning their website.

A rather nice lady named Durga Devi called and we went through the various steps I took to try to pay my parking fine. She too, expressed surprise, at the lack of helpfulness of the website and the inordinate time it appeared to take to download info to their data base. Point taken by her and I believe she will nudge the system into efficiency.

What impressed me was her pleasant attitude and the genuine attempt at getting to the bottom of the problem. We didn't solve it at the time, but I'm sure she will give it a good go.

May I offer a bouquet for this attitude displayed and say how pleasant it is to deal with officialdom that tries hard to fix the problem and not dive under the bush of excuses.

Many thanks,

Leonard McCully
20th March 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Unfriendly URA website sends Len on a merry-go-round; then he discovers AXS

My friend, Leonard McCully, will not forget to display his parking coupon the next time he goes to Amoy Street.  He learnt his lesson after being given a runaround -- twice -- when he tried to pay a composition fine online.

Here's his story: "I foolishly parked at Amoy Street last Sunday (March 5) after church and failed to  display a parking coupon thinking it was free parking on Sundays. 

The attendant came and left a ticket on my car. No excuses, I should have put a coupon up.

Now the fun and games started. On the notice was the offer of composition at $30 and failure to pay within 7 days, the threat of an enhanced penalty would take place.

I went into the URA website Went through the steps and got absolutely stuck when the computer said my notice number was incorrect. Several reattempts and no joy. So I called the number given and got the runaround to go back to this unhelpful website. 

So I called the hotline and a nice fellow instructed me to try the website again in two days as their system may not have been updated. He said it usually took two days to enter the data. Hmm. Then why the threat of action after 7 days??, Why not 7+2 days??

Right, I waited three days to make sure and again I was given the runaround by this unhelpful website yet again. I waited another day and tried again and this was Thursday. My 7 days was fast expiring as I anticipated they don’t do any work on Saturday and Sunday. So on Friday I went back to the hotline and another nice fellow heard me out and suggested I get to an AXS machine to pay.

I found that rather inconvenient and said that there ought to be a more friendly way of doing things. Then he told me I could download the AXS application and do it from there. 

Eureka!! In 5 minutes I was done. Thirty dollars left my bank account and I was done. I guess I should have looked at the rear of the penalty notice and I would have spotted the AXS  pathway. Did you know you can pay for lots of stuff on this app.

But, my issue with URA, is that their main website should be working and for that matter, their data entry should also be more efficient in this day and age where their officers scoot around with cameras and electronic tablets that should be downloaded in a jiffy, instead of two working days. Where is this efficient Singapore we proudly tout?

Wasted a lot of time. If anything, this taught me to remember to put a coupon up the next time I go to Amoy Street."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

M1-StarHub saga continues; it's the fixed-line now

The frustrations of my move from StarHub and M1 continued this morning. This time it was over my fixed-line telephone.

In my last post, Moving from StarHub to M1, meeting the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I related my frustrations over the service I had encountered for my broadband.  But fortunately, it ended up well only because I was able to get the help of a computer-savvy friend, not the M1 contractor.

The fixed-line problem started last Thursday (March 9), a day after it was switched from one telco to another.  All the phones in the house suddenly went dead.

I called M1 to find out why.  I managed to get customer service officer Melanie on the line.
She was the officer who had called me after my first blog posting as she wanted to find out more about what had happened.

As she wasn't able to send a technician to my house, she decided to guide me on how to troubleshoot.
After what seemed like eternity, she finally gave up and said she would arrange for someone to come over to get things fixed.

She also warned me that the technician would have to charge extra if there was a need to run extra wiring.  I agreed as it seemed fair.

Come Saturday (today),  another M1 technician named Teo came, with his chubby son tagging along.  He asked me for the location of the box containing the splitter.  I didn't know and he also couldn't find it.

Later, I brought him to a room on the second floor where the old StarHub router and the new M1 Assus router were.  He simply disconnected the StarHub router, came downstairs to my computer room where the Huawei modem was, plugged a line into one of the ports and then connected it to the telephone wall socket.

He tested it and, hey presto, it worked!  Soon, all the phones were ringing.  I asked Teo what he did.
He said he just had to pull out the StarHub line that was still in the router's port.

Then came the surprise --  he said he would have to charge me $50 extra.This was in addition to   what he would be billing M1.

Was there any extra wiring done?  No.   Was he doing any extra work that was outside what he was contracted to do by M1?  I don't think so.

So what was the extra $50 for?  In his invoice, he wrote: "Install a link-up tel point at ONT".
I don't know what ONT means, but there was certainly no installation of a telephone point.

I told him that I disagreed with what he was charging, but I would still pay him as I did not want to have an argument with him. I also said that I would be bringing the matter up to M1.

And this is what I am telling M1:

1.  Your installation service sucks.  You do not know what your contractors are doing. You allow them to charge your customer for service that is supposed to be part of the contract. The first M1 contractor wanted to fix a extra router that wasn't needed. And he didn't even complete the job. The second was just doing what he was contracted to do and yet had the gall to bill me for $50.

2.  Your customer service officers are generally good but are not sufficiently empowered to ease the pain of your customers. Telling them to say, "Sorry, I know where you are coming from.." does not help. Do allow your customers to speak to someone with the authority to resolve their woes.

3.  You are understaffed.  You cannot be trying to solve technical problems through explaining to us on what to do over the telephone. Many of us are just not tech-savvy.

4.  You cannot keep reminding us about your service charge. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth. When you send a technician to our homes to look into a technical problem that is really yours to resolve, remember that this is a service that you have to provide -- if you hope to withstand the fierce competition that is at your doorstep.

As a shareholder, it is my responsibility to see that you remain tip-top...even if I have to go to your AGM to raise the issue as there seems to be no one with authority to whom I could speak to.

Maybe it would also be a good opportunity to meet up with Ms Karen Kooi. 😊