The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) have warned the public to be extra vigilant about sharing their personal data, noting that there has been an increase in SMS “phishing” scams which use fraudulent links to obtain protected information.

“If you receive a suspicious link please do not open them or fill in your information. Do not share your phone number, account number, PIN codes, password, personal data or any other credentials,” warned a June 4 ABC announcement.

It added that anyone who has opened or shared information with a link that they suspect is unofficial should immediately contact their bank through the legitimate toll-free number.

The ABC said that the number of scams is increasing, with fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated.

“Even with layers of security measures, fraudsters still can obtain access to mobile apps or ibanking (internet banking), if you do not protect your PIN code and password,” it explained.

The association suggested that all concerned members of the public contact their bank for tips on how to protect their personal accounts, and asked them to share the ABC notice with their friends and family.

ACLEDA Bank president and CEO In Channy said on June 6 that phishing with fraudulent links has been going on for a long time, and that the problem was not unique to Cambodia.

He added that banks and other financial institutions advised their customers to set complex passwords and avoid sharing confidential information with others.

“Providing your personal information to strangers through calls, messages or email is potentially giving bad actors the opportunity to steal information,” he said.

“Since the creation of ACLEDA Bank, neither our system nor our customers’ accounts have been hacked. It is very rare that our customers are cheated, because we regularly remind them of the importance of protecting their personal information,” he concluded.

Kaing Tongngy, spokesman for the Cambodian Microfinance Association, explained that scams related to microfinance are very different from those involving banks, as mobile banking is far less prevalent. Just five microfinance associations employ mobile apps, and they are predominantly used for making deposits.

“Because of the limited use of mobile banking, scammers have not targeted the sector as much,” he said.

He also noted that microfinance institutions that do accept deposits or provide mobile banking services utilise advanced software protection systems and also remind their customers to be alert to any suspicious interactions or transactions.