The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday reminded the public to refrain from engaging with unknown individuals and not to give sensitive personal information through text message, email, or phone call to any stranger.

In a press statement, the department advised the public to be extra vigilant and not to entertain text messages about ”unclaimed” relief allowances or any other supposed benefit allegedly being granted by any DSWD office.

The stern warning came out after the DSWD received a report from a concerned citizen about a text message circulating among mobile phone users regarding the alleged “unclaimed” relief allowances for senior citizens and retired business owners.

The DSWD clarified that “it is not true.”

“The department did not issue or publish such a message. Likewise, there is no such relief allowance that is being provided to the seniors,” the statement read.

However, the agency said its financial assistance for individuals in crisis situations (AICS), including senior citizens, is extended through the department’s Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) located at the central office and in all DSWD field offices nationwide. CIU clients undergo assessment to avail of the needed assistance.

The DSWD also reminded the public to be alert and never to trust unknown individuals, especially when they are asking for vital and sensitive personal information through available communications.

For concerns regarding the department’s programs for the elderly, clients may inquire through DSWD VOIP number 8931-8101 local 10125/10157 or via email at socialpension@dswd.gov.ph. Clients may also directly inquire with the authorized personnel at the City/Municipal Social Welfare Office located in each city/municipal hall to ensure legitimate information.

Likewise, the DSWD advised its clients to only refer, inquire, and send concerns to its official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/dswdserves or @dswdserves, which has more than 1.3 million followers, regarding the department’s various services and programs.

The public could report similar incidents to the DSWD Agency Operations Center through email: aoc@dswd.gov.ph.

In another development, Gatchalian on Monday met with data experts from the OCTA Research to recalibrate social protection programs and services anchored on the current and latest data trends.

Gatchalian said the meeting was in line with his priorities to enhance data-driven social protection packages that will resolve the development issues in the Philippines particularly the hunger and poverty problems.

During the meeting, OCTA Research President Dr. Ranjit Rye and Chief Data Scientist Dr. Guido David presented significant findings from their surveys that may serve as the basis for crafting and formulating mechanisms and systems for social protection.

OCTA research is composed of a team of well-experienced researchers that makes use of polling to gather insightful data that could be prepped for certain analysis. (PNA)