THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Wednesday, November 24, allayed the public’s fear that their information, especially contact numbers, are being obtained by scammers through coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) contact tracing forms.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said there is no direct evidence linking the spread of spam messages to the possible leakage of contact tracing forms, which is already under investigation.

Over the weekend, thousands of mobile subscribers received spam text messages from unknown senders offering suspicious high paying jobs.

NPC commissioner Raymund Liboro said an organized international or global syndicate is behind the spread of spam messages, which is also being experienced in other countries.

“We have summoned them to detail their current and future measures to combat smishing. Ultimately, we want to secure their commitment and focus on fighting these fraudulent practices so we can best strategize how to block these messages and protect our data subjects,” Liboro said in a press conference on Tuesday, November 23.

“We hope to find areas where the NPC and these industry players can establish a more proactive approach in fighting smishing and other scams, moving forward,” he added.

Cabarios admitted, however, that tracing the people behind the mobile numbers used for the scheme is challenging because they were unregistered numbers.

He recalled their call for the passage of a law, which will require mobile subscribers to register their SIM cards.

He said of the 150 million mobile subscribers in the country, only three percent are postpaid.

Cabarios said this will deter the spread of text scams and other cybercrimes and that suspects will be easier to trace.

Meanwhile, in a statement, S&R membership shopping said it has been victimized by a cyber-attack, which may have compromised its members’ contact information.

It assured its members that credit card and other financial information were spared, safe and secured, as these data are protected by encryption measures as required by regulation.

It said they have already reported the matter to the NPC, which has immediately launched a probe into the incident. (SunStar Philippines)