Text scam knows your name? Here's how they likely got your data, says expert

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2022 12:40 PM

MANILA — The former head of the Philippines’ data privacy watchdog suspects that so-called data brokers and SMS casters are the likely sources of a growing text scam, which this time contain personal information.

"These personalized messages have become obviously targeted and now are really zeroing on specific individuals. So, this is very alarming," former privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro told ANC's "Rundown" Monday.

He said data brokers contracted by major telecommunication firms conduct legitimate research and SMS and marketing campaigns.

Meanwhile, SMS casters are software-based technologies that can send bulk messages through a computer or SIM cards, he added.

While Liboro is not discounting the possibility that COVID-19 contact tracing forms have been used for smishing or a phishing fraud sent through SMS messaging, he said the country is dealing with a "more complex ecosystem of data transfer."

"But then again you have data brokers or this data middlemen who actually purchase this. One thing alarming about data brokers is some of them or most of them are not really transparent on where they got their data," he said.

He also warned that criminals "might have also been tapping" to data brokering, which is a $200 billion industry and is expected to become more profitable.


Liboro, who is now the founder of think tank Privacy and Security by Design, called on telecommunication companies to practice "more diligence" in dealing with data aggregators.

"Telcos must really exercise more diligence in dealing with data brokers and make sure that they are bound by contractual obligations," he said.

Data brokers must ensure that their information are legally acquired and will pass the standard of the country's Data Privacy Act, he added.

Liboro also suggested of having a SMS sender identity registry or those sending bulk text messages so they could be held accountable.

"Our problem right now is that we don't know where these messages are coming from. They reach your phones; they reach your inbox anonymously and you have no way of exercising your rights. You don't even know whom to call or whom to message if you want to opt out. So, this have to be addressed," he said.