Consumer group Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) has called on government and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and telecommunications sectors to crack down on online scams amidst increasing number of cybercrime victims during the pandemic.
In a recent statement, BK3 convenor, Prof. Louie Montemar said that “A safe cyberspace is vital to digital readiness as consumers are now relying on online connectivity for daily transactions.”
Citing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data, Montemar said that digital payments and transactions surged by over 5,000 percent during the pandemic as people have opted to do business using e-commerce and e-payment platforms instead of face-to-face transactions.
“Unfortunately, the exponential rise of online transactions has created a borderless hunting ground for unscrupulous criminals to prey on consumers who have just started to learn their way around the online platforms,” Montemar said.
“According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data, digital payments and transactions surged by over 5,000 percent during the pandemic as people have opted to do business using e-commerce and e-payment platforms instead of face-to-face transactions,” Montemar said.
“It is very encouraging that independent reports have recognized improving internet speeds. However, Digital Readiness does not end with fast internet speeds and digital infrastructure build-up. It is equally important to have a secure digital space where online users and consumers are safe from scams such as phishing, smishing, and other schemes that target credit card holders and e-wallet users,” Montemar said.
“We strongly encourage more proactive interventions from the private sector, such as the Digital Thumbprint Program (DTP) of Globe Telecom in partnership with the Department of Education, which integrates modules on digital citizenship, online safety, and responsible use of technology in the curriculum,” Montemar said.
Montemar further emphasized that government should also further engage the private sector telcos and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in a sustaining information and communications campaign to educate netizens on how to recognize the deceptive tactics of cybercriminals such as smishing where text messages from people pretending to be from reputable companies are tricking consumers into revealing personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
“We must remain vigilant against the growing threat of online scams. BK3 denounces cybercrime in all of its forms and calls on all government, the digital technology industry, NGOs, and CSOs to unite in purging the internet of scammers and other perpetrators of exploitation and abuse,” he concluded.