March 2, 2024

The Philippine National Police on Feb. 1 reminded the public to be cautious in giving personal information online and clicking website links.

This came as cyber identity theft cases rose by 12.2 percent last year, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) Director, Maj. Gen. Sydney Hernia, said.

In a statement, Hernia said the ACG has logged 1,597 cyber identity theft cases in 2023, from 1,402 cases in 2022.

This offense is subject to the penalties outlined in Section 4 (b) of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Hernia said 20 suspects were arrested in two years through inquest and regular filing, while other cases are under investigation or referred to other agencies.

He added some cases are resolved under the criteria of “beyond police control,” which include complainant-related issues such as failure to submit requirements, refusal to prosecute, record-keeping requests, or challenges in locating the individuals.

“Cyber identity theft occurs when individuals unknowingly share sensitive information through methods like phishing, scams, or downloading malicious software. Cybercriminals exploit social media platforms and insecure networks, compromised ATMs, and target data breaches on company, government, or educational websites,” Hernia said.

He said netizens must refrain from sharing unnecessary personal information online, clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, and look for “https://” in the URL when entering sensitive information on websites. “By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber identity theft. Always be proactive in managing your online presence and protecting your personal information,” Hernia said. – PNA