Villar to NTC: Persuade telcos to help protect public vs text scams

Rappler.com
Villar to NTC: Persuade telcos to help protect public vs text scams
Senator Cynthia Villar says she will file a bill seeking the mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards

MANILA, Philippines – A senator has called on the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to persuade telecommunication companies (telcos) to do their part in protecting the public from text scams.

In a Senate hearing on text scams on Wednesday, September 2, Senator Cynthia Villar asked the NTC to urge telcos to participate in the information drive against text scammers as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“If you don’t have the budget, I suggest you ask the telcos to partner with you in coming up with TV ads exposing the modus operandi of text scammers. I am sure the information drive against text scams will be a worthwhile corporate social responsibility project,” Villar told the NTC at the hearing.

According to the senator, radio and television advertisements should complement posters and newspaper ads to expand their reach.

Villar presided over the hearing of the committee on public services subcomittee “E” on the proposed Senate Resolution No 974 on the proliferation of text scams and the measures the government and telcos should do to stop them.

According to Villar, she has been a victim of text scammers pretending to represent the Villar Foundation, the non-stock, non-profit organization where she is the managing director. (READ: BSP warns the public versus text scams)

“Almost every day for the last two years, I would get complaints from people saying they received a text and they won a prize from the Villar Foundation [Inc]. We have to go to extra lengths explaining to them that the text was a hoax and that we are not raffling off house and [lots] and money,” Villar said. (READ: Globe blocks nearly 1000 text spammers, scammers)

Villar recalled meeting a janitor at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport who was tricked into paying P5,000 worth of fees for supposedly arranging his “winnings” from the Villar Foundation.

“What is deplorable about text scammers is that they give people false hope while extracting from them their hard-earned money,” she said.

Law against scammers

At Wednesday’s hearing, Villar slammed the NTC for its failure to protect mobile phone subscribers from text scams.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba admitted that the NTC is unable to push for the mandatory SIM card registration after telcos succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order against the implementation of NTC Memorandum Circular No 13-6-2000. 

The memorandum circular orders the regulation of the sale and use of prepaid call cards and changing the unit of billing for cellular phone operations.

Villar said she will file a bill seeking to impose the mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards. The House version already passed third and final reading.

Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation Cybercrime Division chief Ronaldo Aguto told Villar during the hearing that his division is working with the NBI’s Anti-Fraud and Technical Intelligence Divisions to pursue text scammers.

According to Aguto, the NBI was able to file 28 text scam cases in 2012, 7 in 2013, 10 in 2014, and 8 as of mid-2015.

He said that text scammers are “ordinary persons” who know social media engineering and are usually not part of big-time international groups.

Aguto said these text scammers were able to convert the load credits into cash through the telcos’ money transfer facilities. – Rappler.com 

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