NPC summons parties over scam text measures

Published November 23, 2021, 11:10 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) 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 amid surge in scam texts, believed to be perpetuated by a global syndicate.

National Privacy Commission

In a statement, NPC Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said these firms have been summoned to detail their current and future measures to combat smishing. Scam messages have been soliciting and misusing personal information.

Smishing is defined as the fraudulent practice of sending text messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Ultimately, NPC would like these parties to secure their commitment and focus in fighting these these fraudulent practices to be able to strategize how to block these messages and protect data subjects.

Based on NPC’s initial investigations, 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 advocate groups to work hand in hand and take more urgent and concrete action to safeguard,” Liboro added.

In meeting with industry players, the NPC aims to 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,” he added.

Liboro reminded data subjects anew to remain vigilant and not open suspicious links. The privacy official also told data subjects to always scrutinize the messages they receive and not easily believe its lofty promises of easy, passive income opportunities and high-paying jobs.

“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.

NPC further said that at this time, there is no sufficient information to attribute or link the unsolicited SMS to scraping or breach of contract tracing forms/apps.