The local office of the trade and industry department, and various government agencies, are urging consumers to be wary of text messaging scams currently proliferating around the country.
In an advisory, the DTI’s Consumer Protection Group (CPG) noted reports about short message service (SMS) messages randomly being sent to people and offering money-making opportunities.
DTI Palawan information officer Persival Narbonita, however, said their office has yet to receive any formal complaint related to the matter.
The DTI also advised concerned individuals to report such incidents to the anti-cybercrime units of other law enforcement agencies such as in Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.
“Criminal act kasi ito, fraudulent act through the use of information & communications technologies under RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Sila kasi ‘yong meron facilities patungkol nito,” he said.
Narbonita said they are evaluating the situation to determine their possible interventions.
“Ini-evaluate ito kung meron ground. Need ito ng mga supporting docs para ma-establish talaga na merong consumer-seller transaction. Ang DTI only handles complaints against normal business selling transactions, kasi kung hindi negosyante ‘yong nireklamo ay hindi na ito under ng DTI,” he added.
The DTI-CPG, on the other hand, said that to ensure the safety of the personal information, messages received may be reported and verified directly to the hotline number of the concerned platform. The CPG can also be reached through toll-free hotline 1-384 or send an email at email@example.com
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), along with DTI, and Smart Communications, Inc., also reminded the public to be vigilant. It stated not to entertain questions or surveys from unknown senders and never provide personal information to strangers.
NTC also said to use the text messaging app’s built-in blocking feature and report incidents via https://ntc.gov.ph/complaint
Aside from text messages offering part-time jobs currently circulating, DTI also warns the public against scam text messages about winning cash or vehicle, offering loans, or asking for the load to deliver packages from an alleged relative. It stressed the public to be careful with promos offering giveaways and freebies.
Meanwhile, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) in a statement on November 23, said that it has summoned the telcos, banks, and e-commerce platforms for the further steps to combat the recent surge of scam texts that have been soliciting and misusing personal information.
NPC summoned the data protection officers of Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, Dito Telecommunity, Lazada, Shopee, and several banks to report on their spam prevention measures.
Based on NPC’s initial investigations, Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro revealed that the recent smishing activities are run by a global crime syndicate, not by a group that has gained unauthorized access to contact tracing forms, which was one of the first suspicions.
“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 advocacy groups to work hand in hand and take more urgent and concrete action to safeguard,” Liboro said.