Suspicious links in emails, social media and apps have been pointed to the recent sudden increase in cases of account takeovers among mobile wallet users.
However, the investigation shows that the most common way in which phishing links are sent is through SMS text messages, or so-called “SMShing”.
Armed with the information they gathered from the fraudsters who were first arrested, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) and GCash, from their joint investigation, provided some tips to help consumers spot the ways used by scammers, fraudsters, and other cybercriminals.
“SMS or texting is one, if not the most, common method scammers use to send malicious links because this can be done without revealing the identity of the scammer since cell numbers can be tricky to track. The possibility of getting victims to tap on these links are very high, especially with consumers who are not tech-savvy, and are just curious,” explained AJ Sibal, head of fraud operations of GCash.
Meanwhile, PNP-ACG spokesperson P/Capt Michelle Sabino gave some tips for consumers to protect themselves against this modus operandi:
Tip #1. Ignore unknown numbers and email addresses. If the number is not in your contact list or the email address is suspicious, do not answer or reply to it.
Public given tips against ‘SMShing’
Tip #2. Most spam text messages offer ways to get rich quickly and are often “too good to be true,” such as job offers that pay too much.
They often demand expensive training fees in exchange for accepting the job and tell the victim to click on a link, which causes their mobile wallet accounts to be hacked.
Tip #3. Avoid clicking on suspicious links. Those ending in .com, .ph, .gov, and .edu are often legitimate and official websites of organizations. If you see unfamiliar websites, don’t click on them because scammers might use them to get personal or private information.
Tip #4. Get into the habit of taking screenshots of suspicious text messages and online transactions for easier filing of complaints at the nearest precinct.
“The public can reach out to the PNP-ACG through its hotlines at (02) 8414-1560 or 0998-598-8116 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage everyone to report incidents of scams, fraud, and cybercrime,” added Sabino.