Philippine Senate Investigating Widespread Text Scams

Millions of Filipinos have become alarmed by the unprecedented number of spam and scam texts they have been receiving over the last few months, so much so that the Philippine senate decided to launch an investigation to try and identify the malicious actors behind the widespread problem.

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The texts in question employ phishing tactics to deceive receivers to part with their sensitive information, such as passwords and bank details. Some of the texts even bear the full name of the receiver, which prompts major privacy concerns.


According to Reuters, the country's top two telcos, PLDT and Globe, said they blocked more than a billion suspicious text messages between them this year. Their efforts, however, aren't enough, with their combined 156 million mobile subscribers continuing to receive unsolicited texts. The two providers did note that their security systems have not been breached.


"This is a staggering number of messages that prey upon the vulnerable like those who are unemployed, in need of money or are just unfamiliar with these schemes," said Senator Grace Poe, who heads the senate's public services committee.

Philippine Senator Grace Poe. Credit: Office of Senator Grace Poe via Rappler

Ms Poe believes the best way to combat the ongoing surge in text scams is through the revival of the SIM Card Registration bill, which was vetoed last year by then President Rodrigo Duterte. The bill requires mobile subscribers to register their SIM cards with their network providers before they'll be able to activate and use them. The bill also requires social media users to register their legal identities and phone numbers when creating new accounts.


A spokesperson of the former president said he vetoed the SIM Card Registration bill because he disagreed with the inclusion of social media in the measure.


In Singapore, scams have also recently been on the rise. Local authorities are reportedly considering a bill that would require all organisations using SMS sender IDs to communicate with the public to register with the government. This adds more restrictions as to which organisations can use text as a communication channel, making it harder for scammers to conduct phishing schemes.

 
  • The Philippine senate has launched an investigation to try and identify the malicious actors behind the recent surge of text scams.

  • The country's top two telcos, PLDT and Globe, said they blocked more than a billion suspicious text messages between them this year, but their efforts might not be enough.

  • This is why Senator Grace Poe also wants to revive the SIM Card Registration bill, which was vetoed last year by then President Rodrigo Duterte.

  • The bill requires mobile subscribers to register their SIM cards with their network providers before they'll be able to activate and use them.

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