The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has warned the public on the recent surge of text spams luring them into dubious investment schemes and bogus employment opportunities.
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia advised the public to be vigilant against SMS phishing or "smishing" disguised as texts with suspicious links to get their personal information.
"These links then redirect users to fraudulent sites when clicked. These sites may steal users' personal data, introduce mobile malware, and even commit fraud," Olalia said in the latest POEA advisory.
"Applicants for overseas employment are reminded to avoid clicking on suspicious links, especially those coming from services and numbers which they did not sign up for," he added.
Olalia also urged the public to block these numbers and report smishing incidents to their telecommunications provider, the National Privacy Commission (NPC), and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
"The public is also advised to be vigilant in protecting their contact information and other sensitive personal information, such as copies of their government-issued identification cards and documents, in order to avoid receiving spam and fraudulent messages, or falling victim to unlawful activities such as identity theft and cyber extortion," he said.
The POEA likewise reiterated its warning regarding the "Please read and understand" scam wherein individuals and/or entities copy the information of licensed recruitment agencies, such as its name and the name of its authorized representative, to promise employment to other countries, and ask payment from applicants for document processing, training, or slots for online orientations and seminars.
"The public is advised to ignore these messages and refrain from transferring any amount of money to these scammers," it said.
To avoid these scams, the agency told overseas job seekers to use its verification system at the POEA website (www.poea.gov.ph) or email the POEA Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm overseas employment offers.
An interagency group composed of ten government agencies including the NPC and NTC was recently formed to catch those behind the surge of smishing and prevent potential "privacy disaster."
Spearheaded by the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), the group includes the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, National Security Council, and Anti-Money Laundering Council.