AnnouncementsCommunityEconomyTrending

Scam Alert: Third Party Agent – Don’t Be Duped!

Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) wishes to inform the public that AKPK has never appointed third party agents or charged a fee for its services. All individuals can come directly to AKPK for its financial counselling and debt management services free of charge. Should anyone be approached by individuals claiming to be an agent of AKPK and offering his or her service for a fee, we would like to alert the general public that it is a fake agent who has no authority to act on behalf of AKPK.

If anyone is in a stressful financial situation (e.g. house auction looming, car due to be repossessed, etc), do not believe third parties who claim to represent AKPK with a promise to solve your problems for a fee. This is a SCAM. AKPK has never appointed any agents or third parties to represent it. Our services are FREE for all individuals.

Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) was established by Bank Negara Malaysia as a wholly-owned subsidiary in April 2006 to provide 3 services which are financial education, financial counselling and Debt Management Programme (DMP). Financial counselling and Debt Management Programme are services provided for free to individuals by AKPK, without the use of any third party agent.

In general a third party agent is an individual or entity appointed by a company to undertake a transaction on the company’s behalf. Third party is also used to refer to outsourcing certain functions to an outside company to ensure efficient service for clients. Some common examples of third party agents are real estate brokers, debt collection agents and insurance agents.

Over the years AKPK has received numerous reports and feedback from customers of being approached by certain individuals claiming to be representatives or agents of AKPK offering to help them restructure their debts through AKPK’s Debt Management Program (DMP). Some of the customers were wise enough to check with AKPK first and thus avoided being scammed by these agents but many others were not so lucky and incurred losses.

AKPK has in fact made several announcements in the media as well as on Facebook to alert the public about the presence of third parties requesting payment for services similar to those provided by AKPK. There are also third parties soliciting money from individuals in debt as payment to restructure or reschedule their debts by referring them to AKPK.

AKPK was alerted about these unscrupulous third party agents after a number of their customers related how they were brought to the agency after paying a certain sum of money to a third party who offered them financial services. It’s a double-whammy for their customers because they are already in debt, yet they are misled into paying a few thousand ringgit as service fees to these third parties. The money could have been used to pay down their debts instead.

In terms of their modus operandi, usually these agents would make a phone call or send SMS to the customer to offer their service. Individuals who are in some kind of financial mess and in dire need of assistance would be more vulnerable and are more likely to be convinced that the agents can help them. Scammers always prey on people’s feelings and emotions. The desperate victims agree to accept the service even though a fee is charged. The agent will then tell the customer that payment in advance is required first before processing can start. Some may ask for as much as 10% – 20% of the total loan value.

After the payment is made the agent will then assist the customer to submit a DMP online application to AKPK and book an appointment for counselling. It is usually at the counselling stage that the customer realises he or she has been duped after finding out that AKPK’s services are free and AKPK does not appoint any third party agents. By then it is too late as they have already parted with their money and in some cases the agent has already disappeared. They have paid money for a service which they can actually get for free. It’s a double financial blow to someone who is already in a stressful financial situation.  

In one case which happened a few years ago a lady had obtained a loan worth RM200,000 from a credit provider but not long after that she started having financial  problems and began defaulting on her repayments. Conveniently, a ‘consultant’ who claimed to be from AKPK called, and offered to assist her to settle her debt with a fee of 10% of her loan value. Drawn by the promise that her financial woes would be over, she was all prepared to pay the fees as agreed. Fortunately for her a relative mentioned about AKPK’s free services just in time, and after making her own enquiries with AKPK, she quickly enrolled into AKPK’s Debt Management Programme and saved herself from losing RM20,000.

In another case which happened more recently, a customer received a SMS advising him to take a personal loan to fully settle his outstanding credit card balances. After he had obtained the personal loan and settled his credit card balances he applied for a higher credit limit from the bank with the help of the ‘agent’ who assisted him to write a letter of application. When his application was approved he utilised his credit limit to the maximum through cash-on-call and used up all his credit cards. The ‘agent’ then helped him apply to AKPK for enrolment in the Debt Management Program (DMP) telling him that this is a special loan from Bank Negara Malaysia. The customer, or victim rather, had paid almost RM20,000 to the agent in fees for his service. If the public are not mindful, they may fall into the trap set by these agents. They should investigate first instead of relying on one odd telephone call from an unverified agent.

Besides third party agents, there are other types of financial scams which victims have fallen prey to especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, after the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package was launched and financial assistance given to those in need during the Movement Control Order (MCO), it has been observed that there was an increase in cases of financial scams or frauds reported to the authorities. Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government aid to dupe people into parting with their money.

The most active among them are the Macau Scam, False Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC), Personal Loans Scam, online purchase of face masks and the most recent scam is the use of false websites or apps using the name of Bank Negara Malaysia.

AKPK’s financial education service, which provides education on the responsible use of money and credit management skills, gives a comprehensive coverage of financial scams in its investment module to create greater awareness of these scams thus helping individuals to avoid being scammed. We would like to encourage those who wish to know more about our financial education modules to check out our website www.akpk.org.my.

We should be on alert at all times to avoid falling prey to these financial scams. Almost all the scams involve the voluntary disclosure of information pertaining to personal bank account details by the victim to a third party. Examples of the information are account number, login ID and password, TAC number and there are also cases where the credit card PIN numbers are given to scam syndicates. Without these confidential information it would not be possible for the syndicates to withdraw money from the victims’ accounts.

The tips we can share to avoid being cheated in financial scams are as follows:

–       Keep your login ID and password secret

–       Ensure that your password is strong

–       Do not share your sensitive and confidential banking information with anyone

–       Do not click on any links received through e-mails, SMS or other social media platforms

–       Ensure that website addresses and URLs are correct

–       Do not panic when you receive a call from an unknown person. Stay calm.

–       Do not share your sensitive and confidential banking information with anyone

–       Do not easily believe what the scammer tells you without checking it out first

 

AKPK always advises the public to be careful and vigilant against financial scams especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Always remember that Bank Negara Malaysia will never call you to promote any investment schemes, request for personal banking information or request for any money transfer. Likewise, financial institutions and banks do not appoint or engage third parties or agents for the process of securing loans. 

The public is advised to be wary of calls or messages purportedly from bank officials, the police, income tax department, the Courts or other government agencies demanding your personal banking information. Banks and/or financial institutions will never ask you for your personal banking information such as Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC) or Personal Identification Number (PIN) or your online login username and password.

AKPK would like to remind everyone again that we do not appoint third party agents to engage with customers on our behalf and our services are free-of-charge for all individuals. During the MCO, which is still in force, our services are still available through an alternative online communication channel via Google Form. Customers can visit our website www.akpk.org.my to scan the QR code and access the Google Form for assistance. Upon submission of the online form, our officers will be in touch with the customer as soon as possible. Customers can also call our customer care line 03-2616 7766. Customers can also go to ask.akpk.org.my for tips and the latest financial information.

AKPK would also like to take this opportunity to inform the public that our loan restructuring service under the Debt Management Program is now available to sole proprietors. This will be helpful to those in business who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We would like to encourage the SMEs who need our assistance to visit our website for more information and visit our branch after the MCO is over.

Stay Safe, Stay Informed and Stay Motivated to make a Comeback to embrace the new norm post COVID-19 MCO. AKPK for a Better Tomorrow!

Tags
Show More

Tan Mei Kuan

Tan Mei Kuan graduated with first-class honours and book prize from University of Malaya majoring in languages and linguistics (English). She is proficient in both written and spoken English and Malay. She is also conversant in Mandarin and has knowledge of Japanese and Korean languages. Mei Kuan has been on the Dean’s List for three years running. Having written for the campus newspaper and residential college magazine, joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise her writing and language skills. In her spare time she enjoys running (races).

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close