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NTC admits difficulty in tracing spam messages due to use of prepaid SIMs

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday admitted that it will be difficult to trace who are behind the influx of phishing text messages since prepaid numbers were used by the perpetrators.

Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said the numbers used by text scammers are prepaid, which are unregistered, unlike postpaid numbers where telecommunication firms keep a database of clients.

“Kapag talaga prepaid mahirap ma-trace [It’s difficult to trace if it's from a prepaid SIM],” Cabarios said.

With this, the NTC official said a mandatory SIM card registration is needed to deter text scams and other cybercrimes.

Cabarios said the NTC has been supporting SIM card registration ever since, when mobile subscribers in the country were only two million.

The NTC official said mobile subscribers in the country have grown to 150 million, of which only 3% are postpaid.

Senate Bill No. 176, pending in the Senate, 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.

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

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 official 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.

Meanwhile, amid the emergence of other messaging platforms, Cabarios said that texting volume in the country declined to 500,000 text messages per day from its peak of 2 billion a day.

Nonetheless, he said the Philippines remains as the “texting capital” of the world. —KBK, GMA News