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Cybersafe October 10, 2022

How to deal with text messages from unknown numbers

Filipinos have been receiving numerous fraudulent texts lately from unknown people. Every single day, most of us are receiving text messages promoting online gambling sites, promises of high-paying jobs, or getting offers of quickly-approved loans with low interest rates.


While these are not entirely new, these incidents have been happening at a much higher frequency due to the increased use of financial technology platforms and the internet.


Why do I keep receiving these messages?


At this point, government agencies and regulatory bodies are looking into these illegal activities. Certain measures have been implemented to investigate and capture cyber criminals.


In the meantime, the government, private and banking sectors have been endeavoring to protect the Philippine banking public. For example, telecommunication providers and banks regularly send reminders to their customers on what to do to protect themselves from text scams.


Addressing text scams was also a major theme of the Cybersafe campaign — an initiative undertaken by all BAP member-banks with allies such as social media influencers, media outlets, and government agencies.


What would happen if I entertain these messages?


There are significant risks in trusting these texts as these expose individuals to online fraud.

This is because these texts include links to external websites which recipients would be enticed to open then prompted them to input personal details to avail of whatever “perk” is offered to them. Unfortunately, when this happens, these unsuspecting people would surely become phishing victims.


Other risks can happen depending on the nature of a text scam. For the case of texts promising high-paying jobs, there is no guarantee you will be fully paid for your work. These schemes also usually involve paying the victim a fee to do the job.


As for online gambling websites, it is highly likely you will not be able to cash out your winnings because these are not regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).


The list goes on as to what harm can happen to you. However, the common theme is that you would be hit by financial losses that could drain your savings.


What can you do to protect yourself?


As with online scams in general, the best way to avoid being victimized is to remain vigilant and cautious when giving out personal and financial information. You can do this by:


  • Never sharing your One-Time Passwords (OTPs) and credit card details with third parties. There are scammers out there who might try to trick you in other ways by not mentioning the term “OTP” while asking for your data.


In this case, the old mantra of never talking to strangers is a good advice you can rely on.


  • Avoid opening unverified links from unknown cell phone numbers. 


  • Immediately block unknown numbers so that they can no longer try to scam you. Ignore all communication with these numbers and only respond to people known and trusted.


These text scammers take advantage of the ignorance or vulnerability of their recipients. As a general rule, when it comes to activities on the internet, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.