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Smart Communications, Inc.: Foreign Criminals Likely Behind Text Scams

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Smart Communications, Inc. has reason to believe that international foreign syndicates may be funding text-based phishing schemes aimed at Philippine telecom subscribers.

The study conducted by PLDT and Smart's Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) revealed that the most recent smishing attacks are most likely being transmitted person-to-person and not through aggregators. Smart has increased its efforts to combat 'smishing' attacks. Smart has canceled 167,000 SIM cards implicated in illegal activity between June and August.

“Based on our initial investigation and through our cooperation with law enforcement agencies and state investigators, it is highly possible that foreigners are behind the text scams that have plagued mobile users in the country. They are working with domestic operators to purchase prepaid SIMs in bulk and use these to send ‘smishing’ messages,” said Angel Redoble, FVP and Chief Information Security Officer of PLDT and Smart.

Smart has provided its support to the recently passed second reading SIM card registration measure sponsored by Lawmakers. In the Philippines, prepaid SIM cards are frequently sold without the customer's personal information.

While awaiting the measure's enactment, Smart claims it is optimizing processes to efficiently acquire relevant customer data and protect it at all levels. In addition, it is examining the weaknesses of other platforms that scammers may exploit after the rule goes into effect.

Smart has also welcomed the government-led joint investigation into the illegal activity. It has been closely coordinating with law enforcers and regulators to net the persons behind the modus.

“We need a whole-of-community approach. We are sharing relevant information with authorities to identify the perpetrators. We also need to find out how the criminals were able to amass mobile numbers so we can find a solution that will further protect personal data,” added Redoble.

Smart also urges customers to refrain from engaging scammers and to avoid clicking the links that are often found in these messages. Smart encourages customers to report smishing incidents and fraudulent activities to cybersecurityincidents@smart.com.ph.

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