The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has summoned the data protection officers of Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, Dito Telecommunity, Lazada, Shopee and several banks to report on their spam prevention measures and further steps to combat the recent surge of scam texts that have been soliciting and misusing personal information.

“We have summoned them to detail their current and future measures to combat smishing. Ultimately, we want to secure their commitment and focus in fighting these fraudulent practices so we can best strategize how to block these messages and protect our data subjects,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said.

Liboro revealed that, based on NPC's initial investigations, the recent smishing activities are run by a global crime syndicate, not by a group that has gained unauthorized access to contact tracing forms, which was one of the first suspicions.

"If our initial findings prove true, that personal data is being exploited by criminals abroad, then this also becomes a matter of national security, which should compel government, the private sector and advocate groups to work hand in hand and take more urgent and concrete action to safeguard,” Liboro added.

In meeting with industry players, the NPC aims to be kept abreast with the scam trends and discuss potential coordination in exchanging crucial information to prevent the unlawful collection and misuse of personal data.

"We hope to find areas where the NPC and these industry players can establish a more proactive approach in fighting smishing and other scams, moving forward," he added.

Liboro reminded data subjects anew to remain vigilant and not open suspicious links.

The privacy official also told data subjects to always scrutinize the messages they receive and not easily believe its lofty promises of easy, passive income opportunities and high-paying jobs.

"If from an unknown number, and with an offer that is too good to be true, it is most probably not true and is a scam,” Liboro said.

Liboro assured that the NPC will continue to monitor the situation and encouraged victims to immediately file a report against the malicious senders, especially if they think their personal data has been compromised.