Scam season

Yup, scammers are pretty well -attuned to the psychology of people, nimbly adapting frauds to our current preoccupations. Just as the seasons change, scammers change along with it.

Probably by now you too got a personalized scam text as I did.

Whether we like it or not, we’re now in a turbo-charged scam season that has everybody bawling, including victimized lawmakers raring to go on a diagnostic spree.

But no real surprises here. Never-ending scams never are.

Cybersecurity experts tell us it is expected that scammers are attacking in full force these days since they’re salivating over your Christmas bonuses or 13-month payouts.

Yup, scammers are pretty well-attuned to the psychology of people, nimbly adapting frauds to our current preoccupations. Just as the seasons change, scammers change along with it.

Prior to today’s scams, for instance, rampant were the fake job scams targeting the jobless a few months back as our prostate economy started getting back on its feet.

Even earlier were elaborate scams promising pandemic aid or asking for money for relatives hit by the virus.

But whatever forms or ways the scams took or are about to take, it all says we live in an age where scams are the new normal.

Defrauding using texts is so normal these days that from January to July Globe telecoms blocked 784 million scam and spam messages, deactivated 14,058 mobile numbers, and blacklisted 8,973 others linked to phishing at the same time.

Smart telecoms, meanwhile, in just four days, from 11 to 14, June foiled more than 23 million texts linked to phishing sites, surging only from only 600,000 scam texts from January to May.

Those staggering figures only go to show the illicit local and global scam economy is booming and that many still fall willy-nilly into the hands of fraudsters.

All this is despite widespread warnings from the government and efforts by cybersecurity geeks to beef up protection against various digital threats lurking in phones and computers.

Which only means it’s on us to guard ourselves against hazardous texts.

When I got the text, for instance, I immediately deleted it even if it disconcertingly had my name on it and had the promise of a P600 reward.

Not that the promised amount was insultingly cheap, but because I knew better the P600 would have led to the gobbling up of my monthly retirement pension or whatever else was there for the taking.
Now one key to knowing better is to start speaking the language of scams.

Here phishing is the generic term for the commonly-used online scam where fraudsters try to harvest important data by pretending to be representatives of a legitimate bank or a company.

Scammers may call to get account details or send messages with links or attachments that lead to fake websites or drop malware into your phone or computer.

The different types of phishing are email phishing, smishing (SMS phishing), and vishing (voice phishing).

I usually don’t get much “smishing.” But over the years I got tons of email phishing, making me familiar with a fraudster’s wiles.

While fake emails now end up in my computer’s spam folder, once in a while I look at them for the sheer hilarity of the attempts at fakery.

I could never get over the fact the emails, supposedly coming from banks or mobile digital wallets (aka G-Cash, Pay Maya, etc.), tell me I maintain those accounts when I don’t.

Anyway, my refusal to play along with fraudsters and cyber-criminals doesn’t mean nothing should be done about text scams.

Many now are pressing for a law on the registration of SIM cards as the immediate solution to text scams.

No doubt a law on SIM cards is a likely deterrent. Though there are thorny questions on what exactly is going to be done with our old SIMs.

Do we surrender our old SIMs for new SIMs once the law takes effect? And what is the process of doing that?

Notwithstanding those questions, shouldn’t authorities pre-emptively recall millions of unsold SIMs or stop their sale in the meantime? It isn’t beneath for well-oiled scammers to hoard all those unused SIMs as the law is debated.

Get the ball rolling then by first starving the scammer of his or her one necessary tool, the SIM.


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