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BCEL Vows to Take Responsibility Regarding Money Hacking Issues

Source: Vientiane Times

Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) – a leading commercial bank – has pledged an investigation into a claim by a customer that a large amount of money was withdrawn from his account without his knowledge.

The claimant, who lives in Xekong province, wrote a post on Facebook saying that 42.5 million kip was taken from his account. Despite still being in possession of his BCEL ATM card, the victim said the money had been taken.

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He notified the police in Xekong after he became aware of the loss on March 1 when he was unable to withdraw money from an ATM. He was informed that the maximum of six withdrawals in one day had already been made.

The man then checked his account through BCEL One, the bank’s mobile app that allows customers to make payments and carry out other transactions and notifies account holders of any activity. He found that money had been withdrawn from his account in Vientiane five times on February 27 and six times each on February 28 and March 1. 

The man immediately notified the branch of BCEL in Xekong, where staff told him they would investigate the matter.

The incident has been widely circulated on Facebook, triggering a public outcry and fears about the safety of online banking.

BCEL Headquarters in Vientiane on Friday posted a notice on its Facebook page vowing to carry out a thorough investigation into the case, and into any similar claims by its customers, saying it would take full responsibility in accordance with the relevant legislation.

The bank’s post generated 971 comments, with most people demanding an explanation from the bank and greater security to protect clients’ accounts. Some called for the bank to take full responsibility for the victim’s losses.

In its post, BCEL said it used internationally accepted security methods to manage and protect data.

To enhance security, the bank advised customers using BCEL ATM UnionPay and other cards to check and make sure that no skimming device is attached to an ATM, as this can copy their account data and withdraw money fraudulently. Any irregularity should be reported to the bank through its hotline number 1555.

As a further security measure, customers are advised to switch their accounts off and on through the BCEL One app.

The bank also advised customers using the ATM UnionPay (Magstripe) to switch to ATM UnionPay Chip instead, saying the latter is more secure.