Expert calls for NSRC overhaul

PETALING JAYA: There is a need to look at the current staffing and ability of the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC), which is unable to handle the scams that are happening, says cybersecurity law expert Derek John Fernandez.

Although there is presently a hotline for scammed victims to report to NSRC, the staff members are not trained enough and the hotline is not active all the time, the lawyer pointed out.

“For now, there is only a handful of borrowed civil staff manning NSRC’s 997 hotline and it is not on round the clock, all year round.

“On top of that, those who take the calls are not adequately trained to diagnose these cases and as scams take place almost instantly due to advanced technology, speed is of much necessity in stopping a scammer.

“It should be a 24-hour hotline run by trained personnel at the call centre with the right amount of budget and resources.

“Without this, NSRC cannot fulfil its mandate as the national scam response centre,” said Fernandez, who is also a Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) commissioner.

He feels that there is much to be done to strengthen NSRC and coordinate its four main components – the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Bank Negara, MCMC and National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) – to enable it to function more effectively as a one-stop anti-scam centre.

“The policies of NSRC must be pushed to reduce scam risks. My view is that the agency now has insufficient resources to carry out a full service to cover all complaints of scams.

“On top of that, it also lacks staff to conduct proper diagnoses of attempted scams,” he said.

Fernandez said that if NSRC is to function as a one-stop centre for all scam responses, the government must provide it with more funds and the latest technology.

“The agency head and staff members must also be given more command and control to be able to stop scammers,” he said.

He called on the four main components of NSRC as well as financial institutions to play their part in training the staff members.

“There must be clear and defined mandates, powers and financing of the centre,” said Fernandez.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye called for the government to equip the NSRC with the latest technologies to fight cybercrime as well as to update any obsolete cyber laws.

“In our fight against scamners, it is necessary to make full use of the NSRC but to do so the government must equip NSRC with the latest technologies.

“Online scamming has become such a serious issue that most of the criminal activities by scammers are online.

“We need to employ the latest technologies. We must utilise NSRC to deal with public complaints.

“We need to look at the expertise needed, albeit foreign expertise if need be,” said Lee.

He said that it is sad that although NSRC is already a year old, it has yet to be the one stop anti scam centre it was supposed to be.

“The authorities should revisit NSRC and ensure that more work is done to beef up the centre. It must involve all the four relevant components of the NSRC.

“I hope the authorities will make sure the centre is not only to solve scams but is also a prevention agency to stop more scams from happening.

“The government should also study the current cyber laws and amend them to ensure our cybersecurity legislation is updated to ensure we will win in our fight against cybercrime,” said Lee.

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