"Your employment VC sent to the POEA has been approved, Click for Details: [link] and you can get 4655/day."

"Do you want to earn money outside of work? We are recruiting staff, the hourly salary is 1880-7880P,pls contact soon possible: [link]"

These are just among the trivial messages that we have been receiving in our inboxes the past months. It is annoying and infuriating to have received such messages over the course of the pandemic.

Interestingly, we did not receive such messages before the pandemic. There were a few but not as frequent. However, around the middle of the pandemic, we began receiving similar messages like those above. And it is quite odd as the messages have become more frequent. For many of us, we receive spam messages almost every day. Some receive it once a day, others receive two or more in a day.

Many speculate that the persons may have gotten our numbers from the initial manual and written contact tracing efforts -- health declaration forms and log books. While there is no proof to these claims, the assumption is very possible. Sadly, there are simply people who have no respect for our private information.

Just a side note, persons sharing sensitive information of other people without the latter's consent will affect information gathering in the near future. This may affect certain information gathering efforts for important initiatives.

Going back to the spam messages, according to telecommunications giant Globe, "In 2021, the company blocked a total of 1.15 billion scam and spam messages, around 7,000 mobile numbers linked to scammers, and 2,000 unofficial social media accounts and phishing sites last year."

Globe also reported that it has blocked 142,575 smishing messages in February and March this year.

“Smishing occurs mainly through mobile text messaging, in which scammers attempt to mislead victims into giving away their personal data. Scammers then use this data to take over a victim’s financial accounts,” said Anton Bonifacio, Globe Chief Information Security Officer.

Meanwhile, PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have blocked a total of 23 million smishing text messages in the last three days. The telecommunications giant also reported that 78,000 SIMs related to smishing were also blocked from January to May of this year.

“The PLDT group’s latest clampdown on ‘smishing’ has expanded earlier efforts to prevent these harmful messages from reaching customers. From January to May this year, PLDT and Smart have blocked more than 600,000 text messages linked to smishing, hoaxes, and spamming,” the company said in a statement on Monday, June 21, 2022.

Meanwhile, in a Philippine News Agency report on June 9, 2022, Senator Grace Poe has urged DICT and NTC to step up efforts against scam texts or smishing messages.

"As more rely on digital technology to cope with the hard times, so must we intensify all necessary safeguards against heightened risks that can overturn our people's efforts at recovery," she said in a statement.

During an interview with GMA's “24 Oras” on June 9, 2022, NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said it is not easy to stop scam and smishing messages.

“Kung mapapansin natin, lahat ito kung dumadaan ng telco puro prepaid eh kung prepaid yan hindi nakarehistro so yung ating law enforcement agencies mahihirapan silang matukoy kung sino sila (If you notice, all these passing through telcos use prepaid. If they are using prepaid, then it is not registered which is why authorities are finding it hard to track them),” Cabrios was quoted saying in the report by Marisol Abdurahman.

For the general public, Globe currently has an online facility where you can report scam or smishing messages and the numbers sending them -- https://www.globe.com.ph/stop-spam.html.

Some have also said there are settings on your office that you could turn on to detect and block spam and smishing messages.