SINGAPORE: Dozens of Apple customers have had hundreds of dollars each drained from their bank accounts, after being billed for purchases they did not make on their iTunes accounts.
The victims that Channel NewsAsia spoke to said the charges were deducted from their accounts at DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC).
Two people told Channel NewsAsia that they lost at least S$7,000 each to iTunes purchases with one saying she was billed on her HSBC credit card. She added that she only realised something was amiss when she received a text message from HSBC that she had less than 30 per cent of her credit limit left. She realised the extent of the issue after speaking to a customer service operator.
At OCBC alone, there were 58 cases of fraudulent transactions in July, the bank told Channel NewsAsia.
“In early July, we detected and investigated unusual transactions on 58 cardholders’ accounts. Upon confirmation that these were fraudulent transactions, we deployed the necessary counter-measures and are currently assisting the affected cardholders via the chargeback process," said Mr Vincent Tan, head of credit cards at OCBC Bank.
UOB increased its monitoring of iTunes transactions last week, the bank told Channel NewsAsia on Sunday.
"Where our system detected a potentially fraudulent transaction, we immediately called our customer to check with them on the transaction," said UOB, adding that it would help a customer claim a refund once the fraudulent transaction is confirmed. A new card would also be issued as an additional security measure.
For customers it is unable to reach, UOB said it would send an SMS notification. It would also block their bank accounts temporarily to prevent further potential misuse.
AMOUNT OF EACH UNAUTHORISED TRANSACTION WAS S$112.03
One of the victims is 28-year-old Deepan Chakkaravarthi, who discovered last week that nearly S$700 had been drained from his account at DBS.
Shocked that his "account balance had been completely wiped out", Mr Deepan called DBS and was told that six iTunes transactions had been made.
He did not authorise any of those six iTunes transactions, Mr Deepan told Channel NewsAsia.
The purchases - each for S$112.03 - were made by another iCloud account holder, who had used his account, Mr Deepan added.
"A senior advisor I spoke with (at Apple Singapore) told me that information. But they (have since) suspended that account," Mr Deepan said.
Apple Singapore has since nullified the purchases and DBS has given him a temporary credit for the disputed transactions, said Mr Deepan.
In response to queries, Apple Singapore told Channel NewsAsia that they are looking into the matter.
The company also highlighted their support page, which provides an avenue for customers to report any problems with purchases made on iTunes.
"They will need to sign in using their Apple ID, and will then be able to view purchases and assess veracity before reporting the issue," Apple Singapore said.
Engineer Myo Aung Tun, 44, too had multiple S$112.03 unauthorised iTunes transactions deducted from his POSB savings account on Jul 14.
The total charges that were racked up came up to nearly S$450. He told Channel NewsAsia that the money was returned to him on Jul 19.
"I called the bank and they instructed (me) to change to a new card," he said.
CHARGES ON PHONE BILLS TOO
Gabriel Lim, who was billed S$200 earlier this year for iTunes purchases he did not make, received the charges on his mobile phone bill.
Multiple "iTunes Orders" were charged to his M1 phone bill between April and May, Lim said. He then contacted Apple Singapore to cancel the transactions. Another batch of "iTunes Orders" were charged again in June and July.