NPC says looking into text 'aggregators' as probe continues on text scams

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2022 03:56 PM | Updated as of Oct 01 2022 04:24 PM

MANILA — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Saturday acknowledged having a difficult time going after text scammers as they shift to a possible new modus: going into text aggregators. 

Text aggregators are those that have the ability to send messages through clients, for example applications, and have access to a list of telecommunication companies where they can send these. 

The NPC mounted another investigation because of this, said NPC Deputy Commissioner Leandro Angelo Aguirre. 

"Ang aggregator, for example, kapag gumagamit tayo ng Agoda o Booking.com, ganoon sila para sa telco. Mayroon silang listahan ng lahat ng telco, para kung kumpanya kayo, gusto niyo magpadala, gagamitin niyo yung platform nila tapos sila yung magpu-push sa mga telcos," said Aguirre.

"Ito ang tinatawag na application to phone. Hindi siya phone-to-phone," he noted during an interview on Teleradyo. 

"Medyo mahirap siya i-solve kasi simula nung nag-usap tayo, nagpalit na yung ginagawa nila ngayon. So panibagong investigation nanaman ang tinitingnan natin."

Identifying aggregators, the official said, are easier compared to the previous sources of spams — SIM cards — because these supposedly have sender IDs.

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He said messages sent to aggregators could be located and authorities could also find out their clients, "mas madali makita yung trail na iyon." 

There are still challenges on identifying sources of text scams, the NPC official said, because this problem is "global."

It was also possible that the aggregators' official account or platforms were hacked. 

"Puwedeng mangyari na may message na may sender IDs na kumbaga XYZ company, hindi ibig sabihin automatically na hindi totoo yung sa XYZ company kasi puwedeng na-compromise mismo yung official account ng XYZ company na 'yon dito sa aggregator," he said. 
 
"Titingnan natin kaninong aggregator nanggaling, sino ang kliyente ng aggregator na nagpadala noon at titingnan natin, na-compromise ba talaga account mo? Kung na-compromise 'yung account mo, bakit hindi ka nag-report sa amin? Kasi breach yan."

The NPC also commended Globe's move to block messages that have clickable links in it, but worried that this could affect subscribers sending legitimate links. 

"[But] kung titingnan natin sa perspective na makakatulong ba siya sa problema at mababawasan ang mga biktima, opo," said Aguirre. 

Both the National Telecommunications Commission and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas have ordered the blocking of URLs that lead to malicious sites as well as the inclusion of links in text messages.

Both houses of Congress have ratified the SIM Registration bill after ironing out some provisions. For example, the bill will exclude the word "card" to accommodate any future iteration of the SIM, Senator Grace Poe said.

It is expected to be transmitted to the Office of the President for approval.