NPC probes unsolicited SMS texts with full names of receivers

September 2, 2022 - 5:33 PM
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A person holding a smartphone. (Philstar/File photo)

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is addressing the public’s concerns about unsolicited text messages that include the recipients’ full names.

In a statement on September 1, Privacy Commissioner John Henry Naga said that the NPC is currently monitoring and investigating the matter.

They also held a meeting with telecommunication providers about their security and technological systems.

“The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is monitoring and investigating the proliferation of unsolicited text messages (texts) from anonymous numbers, with some containing the receiver’s names,” Naga said.

“The NPC held a meeting with telecommunications providers today, 01 September 2022, where the participants committed to intensifying their technological and security safeguards, including the blocking of numbers to curb the surge immediately, among others,” he added.

Moreover, the NPC is also coordinating with the National Telecommunications Commission regarding the probe into spam text messages.

“We are also in coordination with the National Telecommunications Commission to share information and conduct concerted actions to the full extent of our respective mandates,” Naga said.

Naga also urged the public to do their part and advised them to be vigilant in protecting their own personal data in both online and offline activities.

“Consistent with our thrust to empower our citizens, we urge vigilance in protecting personal data, whether online or offline, especially in activities that require the disclosure of names, numbers, and other information that could divulge our identities,” he said.

“The NPC shall apprise its stakeholders of further developments related to this issue,” the commissioner added.

Some Filipinos have previously reported that they have received spam text messages from unknown senders that contained their full names.

The messages informed them about supposedly winning unknown contests. They were also asked to click suspicious URLs to get their fake prizes.

READ: SMS scam level up? Spam text messages now bear full names of mobile users 

Another type of scam text or email message involved scaring people with fabricated lawsuits.

Facebook user Paulus Ruaya, a lawyer, shared in a now-viral Facebook post that his fiancé’s mother received an email that informed her about a supposed “estafa” case filed against her.

Ruaya hoped that other people will warn their family members about this scheme.

READ: Public warned of spam messages threatening them with ‘made-up cases’ 

What happened to the previous cases?

In November and December 2021, several Filipinos raised the alarm over a surge in unsolicited text messages about sketchy job offers, product offerings from shopping platforms and free cash deals.

At that time, most messages contained a suspicious WhatsApp channel that receivers were urged to click.

READ: NPC probes reports of spam text messages on sketchy job offers, free cash deals

These reports continued to persist this year.

Gretchen Ho and several others reported that they had already blocked a lot of unknown numbers but the spam texts keep coming.

READ: Gretchen Ho, others still receiving spam text messages, job offers 

The NPC, meanwhile, has been investigating these reports since last year.

In an update on August 31, the privacy body disclosed via a Viber message to reporters that it has finished its initial probe into the spam messages.

It planned to discuss this news with the NTC and other telecommunication firms on September 1.

In line with the recent SMS texts, the NPC invited the public to an open public webinar on September 7 at 1 p.m. It will discuss how users can protect themselves against these scammers.

“We invite everyone to join this event, and we hope for your active participation in this initiative,” the NPC said.