Sen. Nancy Binay was the latest mobile user who received an unsolicited text that contained her full name.
A screenshot of the text message Binay received was reported online.
.@SenatorBinay upon receiving a personalized text message from an unknown number informing her that she is today’s “lucky star” who won a prize: Nakakatakot na. 📸 Office of Sen Binay pic.twitter.com/NSnrM33NXQ
— sherrie ann torres (@sherieanntorres) September 5, 2022
The unregistered sender informed the senator about winning a fake contest and asked her to click a suspicious URL to claim her prize.
Part of it reads: “Ang maswerteng bituin ngayon ay ikaw, Nancy Binay!”
This was the same format that some Filipino mobile users have also reportedly received.
Unregistered senders sent them text messages about winning fake contests. Then, they are also urged to click suspicious links for their supposed prizes.
In a statement, Binay raised alarm over such a scheme. She expressed that this might lead to knowing mobile users’ workplaces, home addresses and other personal privacy details.
“Grabe, ibang level na dahil sobrang entrenched na ang ganitong cybercrime groups sa mga data na supposedly secured, private and confidential,” the lawmaker said.
“Kasi, kung may personal information na na kasama sa mga text scams, it may extend to something bigger and a more sophisticated scheme hanggang umabot sa kung saan ka nagtatrabaho, anong schedule ng mga anak mo sa school, saan kayo regularly namamasyal, anong credit card na ginagamit mo, sino ang best friend mo, ano ang pinag-uusapan ninyo. Nakakatakot na,” she added.
Binay further emphasized the need to take appropriate action against these scammers.
“Habang tumatagal at wala tayong aksyon na ginagawa, lalong nagiging kapanipaniwala ang mga scams at maraming tao ang maaaring mabiktima,” she said.
Reports about these dubious SMS texts have previously reached Associate Justice Marvic Leonen who speculated that a data provider must have leaked out users’ personal data.
“Unsolicited or scam text messages on our phones already contain our names. This means that there is a data provider out there that has leaked or sold or been careless about our information. This makes all of us now vulnerable,” Leonen said.
Following these concerns, the National Privacy Commission announced that it launched a probe into the matter.
Privacy Commissioner John Henry Naga said that the NPC also coordinated with telecommunication providers and the National Telecommunications Commission to curb the surge in spam text messages that target mobile users.
“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.
He also urged the public to be more vigilant in protecting their personal data.
“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.