NTC urged to act vs text spammers as messages become 'personalized'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2022 04:08 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2022 10:54 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — A senator on Wednesday urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to immediately probe the "alarming" frequency of spam and phishing text messages. 

Sen. Bong Revilla said he was concerned over how the perpetrators obtained the personal information of the message recipients, noting that recent texts already indicate people's full names. 

“What is surprising is that those behind the messages seem to know the full names of recipients, and we don’t know how they obtained that information,” Revilla said. 

He added that scam text messages "have become so rampant that they no longer choose the time of day."

Revilla said he personally wrote to NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba to investigate the incidents. 

"Kailangang aksiyonan na ito ng NTC dahil walang kalaban-laban ang marami nating kababayan. Dapat mabigyan ng karampatang proteksiyon ang ating mga kababayan at hindi maloko sa pamamagitan lang ng text message,” he said. 

(The NTC needs to take immediate action on this because our compatriots have no way of fighting back. Our compatriots should be protected from being duped by text messages.) 

Meanwhile, advocacy group Digital Pinoys also urged the National Privacy Commission to find out if local companies collecting personal information are selling these data to third-parties. 

"The people deserve to be assured that their personal information is safe and secured. NPC should prosecute those found to have a hand in this operation. We must not take this lightly as this may lead to bigger problems in the future," Digital Pinoys national campaigner Ronald Gustilo said.

The NTC, in a memorandum dated August 26, has requested telco companies DITO Telecommunity, Globe Telecoms and Smart Communications to “text blast” its subscribers an advisory against text scams from August 31 to September 6.

The telco companies are likewise directed to “accelerate the process of blocking SIM cards that are being utilized to perpetrate these fraudulent activities.”

NTC has also instructed its regional directors and officers-in-charge to appear in local television and radio stations within their respective jurisdictions to warn the public against said text scams from August 31 to September 6.

The telcos and the regional directors and OICs are asked to submit a written report of compliance on or before September 9.

Filipinos have been reporting an increase in SMS-based scams or smishing, especially during the pandemic, when digital adoption also accelerated. 

Earlier investigations by the NTC showed that some of these spamming practices could be part of a global organized syndicate

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