NPC warns public about “smishing” as text scams rise, says global syndicates behind scam text surge

Summons data protection officers of telecom firms, e-commerce platforms and banks

Photo courtesy National Privacy Commission

(Eagle News) – Amid the recent surge of scam texts, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) asked telecommunications firms, online or e-commerce platforms, and several banks to report the steps that they are taking to fight fraudsters that target not only internet users, but mobile phone users as well.

Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro called the public’s attention to “smishing,” a new scam procedure being used by global syndicates to get an individual’s personal information using text messages.

The NPC, on  said it has “summoned the data protection officers of Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, Dito Telecommunity, Lazada, Shopee and several banks to report on their spam prevention measures and further steps to combat the recent surge of scam texts that have been soliciting and misusing personal information.”

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“We have summoned them to detail their current and future measures to combat smishing,” Liboro said.

“Ultimately, we want to secure their commitment and focus in fighting these fraudulent practices so we can best strategize how to block these messages and protect our data subjects.”

-Smishing syndicates operating from abroad-

Based on NPC’s initial investigations, the recent smishing activities are run by a global crime syndicate, and not by a group that has gained unauthorized access to contact tracing forms.

These syndicates operate abroad, Liboro said, citing their initial probe results.

“If our initial findings prove true, that personal data is being exploited by criminals abroad, then this also becomes a matter of national security, which should compel government, the private sector and advocate groups to work hand in hand and take more urgent and concrete action to safeguard,” he stressed.

Because of this, the NPC is also reminding the public not to open suspicious links.

“If from an unknown number, and with an offer that is too good to be true, it is most probably not true and is a scam,” Liboro said.

Liboro assured that the NPC will continue to monitor the situation and encouraged victims to immediately file a report against the malicious senders, especially if they think their personal data has been compromised, the commission said in its release.

The NPC said it is meeting industry players too so the commission could be “kept abreast with the scam trends and discuss potential coordination in exchanging crucial information to prevent the unlawful collection and misuse of personal data.”

“We hope to find areas where the NPC and these industry players can establish a more proactive approach in fighting smishing and other scams, moving forward,” Liboro said.

(Eagle News Service)