Alliance of Concerned Consumers in the Philippines (ACCOP) and Rights Action Philippines (RAP) told the Inquirer that such a law is necessary now since scammers have gotten hold of more personal information, including the actual names of their target victims.
“I really hope that a legislation protecting consumers against text and message scams will be enacted this time by Congress and the executive branch,” ACCOP convenor Ritchie Horario said in a statement, mentioning the proposed anti-spam and SIM card registration bills currently languishing in Congress.
“Many consumers are victimized by scams like these and we will be happy if SIM cards will be registered. We hope that the government can stop scams this way,” RAP chair Rey Dulay said in mixed English and Pilipino in a separate interview.
Horario said the latest escalation in the modus operandi was “alarming,” adding that it was a gateway to other similar or even more dangerous crimes.
“This is very traumatic because our personal information could be used for identity theft, fraud, duplication of credit cards, or even blackmail,” Horario said, citing that it is detrimental to both consumers and businesses.
Meanwhile, Dulay said the spread of personalized text scams is a serious matter and needs to be addressed immediately.
“If this continues and these (scammers) get more than personal data, the scams will also get more complex,” he said.
Dulay added that most consumers are anxious since most financial transactions are now digital and online such as banking and shopping activities.
“The trust of consumers in online financial transactions is eroding because if our personal data can be obtained, how can we consider our financial transactions as secure?” he added.
A day earlier, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said it was still investigating the source of the leaks, but discounted data aggregators or brokers as likely culprits in these smishing scams.
“Smishing” is the criminal act of sending text messages to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, or to download malicious programs, such as ransomware.
This is despite the privacy commission’s own report in November of last year citing Globe Telecoms as pointing to data broker Macrokiosk – which was allegedly tapped by a firm named China Skyline Telecom – as the primary source of similarly formatted text scam messages.