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Privacy watchdog seeks Hong Kong help as SMS scams link to sites in territory

September 14, 2022 Philippines Events & Announcements

MANILA – The Philippines’ privacy watchdog on Tuesday said it has reached out to its counterpart in Hong Kong after SMS scams or smishing attacks were traced to websites in the Chinese territory.

The National Privacy Commission said it has asked Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data to help in its probe into the smishing attacks that have recently become “personalized.”

Roren Marie Chin, Chief of the NPC’s Public Information and Assistance Division said many of the links lead to online gambling and crypto trading sites which are based in Hong Kong.

“We have written to the NPC’s counterpart in Hong Kong to ask for their help in reaching out and talking to the entities connected to the links.”

She said they are still waiting for the Hong Kong agency to respond.

Using personalized scam texts featuring the names of prospective victims, cybercriminals herd their prey into these sites where they are encouraged to register and set up their own trading or gambling accounts.

During the registration process, the cybercriminals gain access to the private data of their victims, which they can then use to infiltrate bank accounts, e-wallets, social media, and emails.

The NPC has also ordered the online gambling and Bitcoin trading websites to explain their involvement in the smishing attacks.

These latest developments come after the NPC met with the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center Tuesday morning. Also present were representatives of telecoms companies DITO, Globe, and Smart.

Chin said they will continue to coordinate with law enforcement agencies as well as the telcos for a speedy resolution to the matter. For now, they will wait for the comprehensive reports of the three telcos on their number and SMS blocking activities. The reports were ordered last September 8, and the telcos were given 10 days to comply

Meanwhile, the National Telecommunications Commission has ordered the three telcos to block all clickable links and URLs, and even QR codes found in targeted smishing text messages.

In March the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas ordered bank and non-bank financial institutions to stop using clickable links in their text blasts and email campaigns to make it easier for their customers to differentiate between legitimate promotional messages and scam texts.

Source: https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/09/13/22/smishing-scams-link-to-gambling-crypto-sites-in-hk
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