The government should adopt a zero-tolerance policy against text scams, Senator Joel Villanueva said.
The lawmaker also said that the “next great pyramid” will be built on the foundation of stolen data of cellphone and internet users.”
“We should be prepared for that. As they said, there are more pyramids in the Philippines than in Egypt. While the pyramids here eventually come crashing down, many soon rise to replace them,” Villanueva said.
He was referring to get-rich-quick Ponzi schemes, or illegal chain distribution plans, which promise high returns on investments, but in fact, are drawn from money put in by new recruits.
Ako’y Pilipino party-list nominee Ronnie Ong has pushed for the creation of a special task force that will investigate spam texts.
Ong particularly is also urging the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Data Privacy Commission to launch a deeper probe on the sudden surge of text spams that scammed hundreds of unsuspecting victims.
For Villanueva, “the next pyramid builders will no longer rely on word-of-mouth marketing. They will use digital recruitment to lure victims. We should avoid this Pyramid scam version 2.0,”
As the country reels from the pandemic-fueled high employment and underemployment rates, Villanueva fears that job seekers are a huge market for scammers.
The unemployment rate in September 2021 reached 8.9%, which is about 4.25 million jobless workers.
Desperate people have always been the target clientele of scammers, he said. Villanueva called on the government to be wary of “data brokers” who sell personal data of consumers.
“This is why “smishing” should be given no quarters by the government, Villanueva pointed out, referring to the cybercrime of sending messages to induce recipients to reveal personal information,l further stated Villanueva.
Senator Win Gatchalian meanwhile urged authorities to work hand in hand with organizations and institutions that address international cybersecurity to clamp down operations in the country of global cyber criminals.
Gatchalian made the call following the National Privacy Commission’s (NPC) recent revelations that the onslaught of spam text messages offering nonexistent jobs is a handiwork of global crime syndicates.
He revealed that text spams or scam text messages offering nonexistent jobs almost on a daily basis for several weeks now.
Ong meanwhile also raised alarm over the mass leakage of private mobile phone numbers that were used by scam syndicates is a very serious data privacy breach that should already require the attention of the government.
“A special task force should be created purposely to get into the bottom of this spam text surge,” Ong said in a statement. Congress on the other hand should review and amend Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act to expand its coverage and increase penalties on data privacy violations, he added.
“How did they get our numbers? Who is responsible for this leakage of personal data?” he added.
Ong stressed that this massive data privacy breach is not a simple law enforcement issue because this can also have national security implications,” Ong said. With Maricel Cruz.