December 8, 2021

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Sen. Imee Marcos

IMEE: RISE IN “SMISHING” GOING OUT OF CONTROL

Senator Imee Marcos has called on the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and National Privacy Commission (NPC) to solve the sudden rise of cybersecurity attacks on the public through spam messages.

“How did these smishers get hold of everyone’s mobile numbers? We have to get to the bottom of this soon, after more than a month since these incidents were reported,” Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said.

Smishing, short for SMS phishing, is the fraudulent practice of enticing people via text messages or mobile data apps to disclose sensitive personal data like passwords or credit card numbers, usually by offering employment, prizes, or discounts.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 prohibits “unsolicited commercial communications” that disguise the source of electronic messages and are sent without the recipient’s prior consent.

Although telcos have released advisories on how to handle these spam messages, Marcos believes that this is not enough to put an end to the problem.

“The NTC and NPC together with telco companies, banks, and online shopping platforms should develop a system that can block these spam messages so that no one could receive them,” Marcos said.

Marcos also called for a stop to the “careless collection of mobile phone numbers for contact tracing purposes by requiring people to list them down on an open information sheet” before being allowed to enter banks, supermarkets, and other business establishments.

“This practice exposes the public to scammers. Businesses must find a way to do contact tracing more privately, especially for those whose mobile phones have no app to generate QR codes,” she explained. (PR)