PCTO issues alert on rising spoofed SMS scams

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO) has issued a warning about the growing threat of spoofed SMS, urging the public to remain vigilant against this sophisticated form of cybercrime.

Spoofing involves fraudsters impersonating SMS channels to deceive individuals, a tactic that has notably increased in Metro Manila following the strict enforcement of SIM registration last year aimed at curbing SMS fraud.

Reports indicate that scammers, posing as legitimate entities like telecommunications providers and banks, send messages with fraudulent links promising non-existent rewards, such as mobile devices. Unsuspecting individuals who engage with these messages risk exposing personal and sensitive information, potentially compromising their online accounts, including social media, e-wallets, and banking accounts.

To combat this issue, telecommunications companies, banks, and financial institutions are collaborating closely, issuing public warnings and working with law enforcement to apprehend these fraudsters.

The PCTO fully supports these initiatives and is actively involved in efforts to bolster the security and reliability of telecommunications services across the country.

“Atty. Froilan Castelo, PCTO President and Globe General Counsel, highlighted the stealthy nature of spoofing, noting, “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. Verify the authenticity of such messages by contacting the official customer service channels.”

Spoofing is facilitated globally by the use of illegal devices known as International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers, or fake cell towers, which intercept mobile communications by simulating cell towers. This method allows fraudsters to bypass telecom network spam filters, complicating the detection and prevention efforts.

The PCTO encourages the public to report any suspicious messages to their service providers and adhere to best practices for digital security. This includes avoiding links from unknown sources, never sharing personal information via SMS, and staying informed about the latest scam tactics.

For updates and more information on how to protect yourself from spoofed SMS, visit the PCTO’s official page at https://www.facebook.com/letsgophtelco/.

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