Spam millionaire

Accessibility of getting SIM cards only prompts scammers to purchase new ones and continue their operations.

Had we not ignored nor blocked messages claiming we won in a raffle or gotten work-from-home jobs offering fabulous sums, we could have been a millionaire many times over by this time.

Imagine all you have to do is text back to a certain attorney and a whole new world beckons with all the moolah at your fingertips. But then reality always bites and you’re left wondering how the hell are we this lucky to win without entering any raffle? And there’s the rob, er, rub.

Personalized spam text messages such as those we mentioned are getting frequent and regular in our inboxes, triggering outcries and calls for regulation.

Fact is, a former privacy official has warned that a shift from short messaging service to Internet messaging platforms could be imminent should the government fail to address the worsening problem of unsolicited text promos and scams.

Former privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro, a good friend from way back our PBA days and a fellow columnist on this paper, has warned of a looming trust crisis in communications brought about by the escalating problem of large-scale sending of unsolicited text messages that have been the subject of complaints by telco consumers.

He said only an active and effective regulation by the government could still avert the crisis. Regulators, according to him, could zero in on data brokers and SMS casters or third-party entities tapped by telcos and private companies for marketing campaigns using text messages.

These same casters, he explained, have also been used by criminals to undertake their scams.

This trust issue which Mr. Liboro has pointed out could be the reason why text messaging usage seems to be on a downward spiral as Filipinos turn to mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat, which all use data connections, not SMS protocol.

Mr. Liboro argued that the looming crisis needs legislation, like enacting a SIM card registration law to be effectively acted on by regulators.

Our good friend may soon have his wish granted as a House panel approved Monday a consolidated measure that would require all postpaid and prepaid mobile phone subscriber identity module, or SIM, cards to be registered.

According to the measure, every public telecommunications entity or authorized seller shall require an end user to accomplish and sign in triplicate a numbered registration form issued by the Public Telecommunications Entity.

The form shall include an attestation that the person appearing before the seller is the same person who accomplished the document and that he presented valid identification cards.

In any case that the end user declines to comply with the registration requirement, which also applies to foreigners, the PTE or its authorized salesperson shall not sell a SIM card.

While private telecommunications providers can block mobile numbers that repeatedly send spam messages, the accessibility of getting SIM cards only prompts scammers to purchase new ones and continue their operations.

Proof that this ease of access has been resorted to time and again by syndicates, here’s a bit of trivia: Globe Telecom in 2021 had already blocked 71 million spam messages and deactivated 5,670 mobile phone call numbers.

PLDT, on the other hand, has blocked 23 million text messages posing as legitimate organizations, but containing links to phishing websites only in three days this year.

Proponents of the bill pointed out that due to the lack of SIM card regulation in the country, it becomes nearly impossible to trace the persons behind the text scams and hold them accountable for fraud, breach of data privacy, or other punishable offenses using an unknown mobile number.

In short, the bill requires ownership registration of SIM cards to eradicate mobile phone-aided criminal activities.

We’re pretty sure a lot of our mobile phone users, particularly those using SMS service, are eagerly following developments anent the enactment of this measure.

In all probability, they want it AEAP.

As Early As Possible.


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