June 21, 2024

The digital era may have made transactions more convenient, but so does the commission of fraud.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine National Police have warned the public anew about the need for the public, especially those transacting online, to be extra careful, as scams continue to be committed despite repeated warnings from authorities and companies about the need to protect online identity to avoid becoming victims of scams and identity theft.
“Sadly, with the convenience we have with online transactions, marami din ang naii-scam,” SEC Regional Director Regina Cajucom-de Guzman said in a recent forum.
De Guzman said online transactions has made commission of scams faster, as communication through text messaging and electronic mail has hastened the exchange between perpetrator and would-be victim.
The identity of perpetrators has also become harder to verify because they are either anonymous or use false names.
Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director, B/Gen. Mafelino Bazar, said there are over 60 complaints lodged in the different police offices concerning scams committed online or through text messaging.
De Guzman said as the country is transitioning into fully embracing online transactions, several government agencies have come up with programs and projects geared towards empowering consumers by informing and educating them about how to protect themselves and avoid becoming the next victim of online and text scams.
The National Telecommunications Commission-Cordillera is also awaiting release of the implementing rules and guidelines in the mandatory registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has signed on Oct. 10 Republic Act 11934, which mandates all mobile phone users to register their SIM cards with public telecommunications entities such as Smart, Globe, and Dito 180 days after the law takes effect.
The law aims to reduce spam and scam text messages as registration will provide government with database of the identity of mobile phone users.
Failure to register the SIM card within the prescribed period will result in automatic deactivation.
Punishable offenses in the SIM Card Registration Act are failure to register; data breach; registering a SIM card under false identities or with forged identification documents; impersonating a registered SIM card owner; reselling a stolen SIM card; and selling or transferring a registered SIM card without first registering it.
To avoid becoming victims, Bazar said aside from observing precautionary measures such as not giving of personal information such as passwords or pin codes; not clicking hyperlinks, being suspicious of offers that are too good to be true, the public should report or file a complaint to the police, or other entities such as the National Bureau of Investigation, NTC, the telco provider, and SEC among others.
Data from the PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group lists the “boiler room”, love scam, lottery scam, card skimming, phishing, email spoofing, Nigerian scam, check overpayment scam, inheritance scam, and grandparent scam, as among frauds done via the Internet or text messaging.
The boiler room scam refers to an outbound call center selling questionable investments by telephone.
The love or romance scam appeal to your romantic or compassionate side where scammers target victims by creating fake profiles on Internet dating services.
The lottery scam usually asks victims through email, text or call that they won in the lottery but before release of the prize, scammers will often say fees such as insurance costs, government taxes, bank fees or courier charges have to be paid first.
Card skimming is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card, making it possible for the scammer to use the card.
Phishing, or brand spoofing, according to the Anti-Cybercrime Group, is the creation of email messages and Web pages that replicate existing, legitimate sites and businesses.
Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address.
The Nigerian scam involves “requests” sent to those with emails concerning the “request for urgent business transaction” usually the transfer of millions of dollars via mail, email or fax transmission. 
The check overpayment scheme involves the deliberate overpayment in a transaction where a scammer will later ask a refund sent via wire transfer of the excess amount from the victim but the check turns out without funds.
The inheritance scam is when one receives a sudden call where they are told that they have been left with an inheritance but will only be able to access it if they give a certain amount allegedly for taxes and other fees.
In the emergency or grandparent scam, a grandparent usually receives a phone call from a con artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren.
The caller claims that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. – Rimaliza A. Opiña