Scam registration


The SIM Card Registration Act isn’t working. You, me and perhaps everyone we know continue to get text messages and random calls from unidentified numbers. The scammers, it seems, have even gone international. There are now so many calls from international numbers, offering this and that. So while the online gaming and cockfighting messages have eased, other types of messages have sprouted and a lot of people are complaining about it.

It seems that after we registered our SIM cards, scammers operating in a dark and organized netherworld got access to our data. It is sad, appalling and frustrating. I hope the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the country’s telcos address this problem.

What is the point of the SIM card registration if our data isn’t protected anyway?


Speaking of scammers, I recently had a chat with a tycoon who said that cybersecurity attacks against businesses have worsened. The hackers have become more vicious and sophisticated in their attempts to gain unauthorized access to the systems of companies, mostly to steal people’s money and data.

The tycoon, head of a sprawling conglomerate that includes a bank, said they get hundreds of attempts everyday from scammers and hackers who try to break the security of the different companies in the group, but especially those with fintech services.

This is why, my source explained, their conglomerate has been extra vigilant against hackers and scammers and all sorts of data phishing activities by investing huge amounts of money to enhance the group’s cybersecurity.

Over at another big company, however, there’s a loud buzz in the business grapevine that this particular listed firm has been the subject of a major hack and that it is being blackmailed by hackers for a hefty amount. True or not, only time will tell.

‘The number one problem’

For sure, the world has become a playground for hackers and scammers. They are all around us, here, there and everywhere.

Even on supposedly regulated social media platforms, sellers of fake products are doing business with impunity. Not only are they getting away not paying the right taxes, they now found a venue to sell fake and smuggled products to unwitting buyers; targeting the young people especially. Some just get customers’ money without delivering any product.

A 2020 report published by Cybercrime magazine estimates global cybercrime to cost the world $10.5 trillion yearly by 2025.

“Cybersecurity Ventures expects global cybercrime costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. This represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history, risks the incentives for innovation and investment, is exponentially larger than the damage inflicted from natural disasters in a year and will be more profitable that the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined,” the report said.

As early as 2017, American billionaire and business magnate Warren Buffett said, “I don’t know that much about cyber, but I do think that’s the number one problem of mankind.”

Indeed, a cyberattack could potentially disable the economy of a city, state or our entire country and this isn’t just in the movies.

The private sector and regulators must act with urgency now more than ever to address this worsening and dizzying problem. If left unaddressed, it would only mean danger to all of us.

We all know what happened to GCash, the Philippines’ largest e-wallet app, which came under a phishing attack by hackers attempting to siphon off P37 million from customers.

Against this backdrop of a high-profile scam, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has a target to digitize 50 percent of all payments by the end of 2023. The BSP has also implemented a number of initiatives including promoting the use of digital wallets and investing in digital infrastructure such as broadband networks so that more people will have access to digital services.

But we cannot enjoy the benefits of technology if we don’t get enough protection from cyberattacks. There are different ways to enhance consumer protection, including biometric authentication to prevent future incidents or AI technology to improve security, monitor transactions and minimize the impact of malicious activities.

In a report last April, the Department of Information and Communications Technology said at least 3,000 “high level” cyberattacks were recorded in the Philippines from 2020 to 2022.

Of this, almost half of the total attacks were systems and networks of government agencies and emergency response teams, the DICT said.

For the same period, DICT has monitored some 54,000 cyber threats.

The Philippines ranked the second among countries that saw the most cyberattacks worldwide last year, according to cybersecurity company Kaspersky.

Data from the Kaspersky Security Network showed the 2022 global ranking was topped by Mongolia at 51.1 percent, followed by the Philippines with 49.8 percent, Ukraine with 49.6 percent, Greece with 49.5 percent and Belarus with 49.1 percent. This isn’t good news at all.

For us consumers, let’s also be vigilant with our online activities and transactions. Banks have consistently warned us not to share our usernames, passwords, OTPs and card details, etc; not to click links via email, SMS or Viber and to not reply to suspicious senders. Banks and companies, too, should invest more to fight cyberattacks.

I know this isn’t exactly the best reading I can offer on a Sunday but for hackers and scammers, everyday is just another day to scam. So let’s be vigilant today and always.