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BSP backs SIM card registration amid rise in phishing scams

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is backing the mandatory registration of SIM or subscriber identification module card to combat fraudsters amid the recent influx of spam or phishing text messages.

At his weekly virtual press chat, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the rise in phishing or cyber-attacks was “not totally unexpected.”

“[G]iven the crisis, the pandemic has resulted in more digitalization, not only in the Philippines but globally,” Diokno said.

“So the incidents of these types have increased,” he added.

The central bank chief said that “we know exactly what is wrong with the system,” pointing to how easy it is for an individual to buy SIM cards.

Recently, mobile subscribers reported receiving spam text messages from anonymous numbers recruiting them to suspicious job offers with high salaries.

“Our system is too lenient… we don’t require those with prepaid cards to register. They have to be registered,” Diokno said.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) earlier admitted that it would be difficult to trace those behind the influx of phishing text messages since prepaid numbers were used by the perpetrators. 

A measure, particularly, Senate Bill No. 176, is currently pending in the upper chamber.

It seeks to require end users of prepaid SIM cards to present a valid ID and photo and to sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider of the purchased SIM card.

The BSP chief said that text spam messages were not a “major risk” to the “total portfolio” of the banking.

However, he said that the central constantly reminds its supervised institutions as well as the banking public to be “more protective on their part” and “protect their passwords” as part of a data privacy “personal hygiene.”

The National Privacy Commission found, in its investigation, that a global organized syndicate is behind the influx of spam text messages.

The privacy body also eased concerns that the spam messages might be due to leaks from contact tracing forms, saying there is no direct evidence showing such correlation.

The NTC advised the public not to click the links sent by anonymous senders as it could lead them to access their sensitive personal data as well as financial and banking information. -NB, GMA News