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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Metro Manila ‘spoofing’ scams on the rise

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The Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO) on Tuesday warned mobile phone users about a surge in “spoofing” scams particularly in Metro Manila.

Spoofing is a technique where fraudsters impersonate SMS channels to deceive recipients. The practice has seen a marked rise, especially in Metro Manila, with the strict implementation of SIM registration last year to combat SMS fraud.

“Spoofing is a form of cybercrime that is increasingly difficult to detect. We’re urging everyone to be extra cautious with any SMS that asks for personal information or prompts to click on a link,” said Froilan Castelo, president of PCTO and general counsel of Globe Telecom Inc.

“Verify the authenticity of such messages by contacting the official customer service channels,” he said.

Spoofing is not unique to the Philippines but is a global concern. It is facilitated by the use of illegal equipment known as International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers or fake cell towers.

These devices, which can be transported by foot or vehicle, simulate cell towers to intercept mobile communications within a certain radius, enabling them to connect to and send messages to phones within the covered area sender IDs that imitate official accounts.

This method bypasses telco networks’ spam filters, making detection and prevention particularly challenging.

The PCTO urged the public to report any suspicious message to their respective service providers and to follow best practices for digital security.

This includes avoiding clicking on links from unknown sources, never sharing personal information via SMS and regularly updating their knowledge on the latest scam tactics, it said.

It said raising awareness and promoting collective vigilance would help safeguard the public against these deceptive and harmful practices.

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