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Mobile Phone SPAM

We've all gotten the computer generated SMS scam messages, the fake winning notification for a raffle you never joined, the Binay text brigade telling us how Binay is great or the devil incarnate (I get both). And yes iOS7 has the Block feature (which we all love) but why are we getting them? Well for one thing it means it works. These spammers and scammers would not go on doing this if they were not making a profit. Another question is how the heck did they get my number? Let's go into that. 

I got my Freedom plan late Dec-2012, then I got an All-in plan Jan-2013.

The All-in plan became my primary number. 
- Family, friends and business contacts
- Google - for account retrieval
- Citibank - for 2 step verification
- BDO - for 2 step verification

The Freedom plan my secondary number. 
- I printed this on a flyer during my six months at Ortigas & Co.,
- I posted it online via tweets and facebook updates

I opt out of telemarketing and so far the only voice calls I get are from citibank, I can't get them to stop calling me and giving me good news (that I can borrow money at cut throat rates weee, I feel so special), I do get the occasional voice calls from other card companies and banks as well. 

Surprisingly, the more public number (freedom plan) receives less SMS SPAM vs the more private number. You would think that this would be the other way around. But clearly someone sold my primary number to the SMS spammers & scammers, I suspect it to be the credit card company/banks. These companies / banks surely exchange data. Somewhere along the way someone sold our numbers to a third party. I am sure this is a violation of our privacy but who will investigate the credit card companies and banks? 

The other question is how do we stop it? Well on the user end we have the aforementioned Block feature but this happens after the fact. You already got the call or SMS, by blocking it you stop the next call or SMS from that number. Not a very ideal solution but better than nothing. 

I think that a step in the right direction would be to require the registration of all pre-paid numbers. Scammers and spammers (and other criminals as well) might be less brazen if their numbers were in a database that would be accessible to law enforcement. Will this happen? The NTC, the regulatory body in-charge of telcos should make telcos do this. But... Our local telcos have enough money to squash anything via our easily bought regional trial court or even supreme court, which can issue a TRO to the NTC. The biggest crooks in our country are government officials, would a senator transacting  shady business on a pre-paid number want their number to be linked to him or her? Even if a pre-paid registry was enacted would SPAM stop, of course not but it might be a deterrent. 

Have you ever tried reporting a scammer to smart, globe or sun? I have and they pointed me to the NTC, and that's where it stopped. No confirmation of my complaint, no action and no follow-up. The NTC is basically useless, I guess this is not a priority for them. Actually I don't know what the regulatory body is doing, telcos are stepping all over the consumers with their early termination fees, lopsided overly long contracts, over-charging, sim-locking devices and other evil anti-consumer or anti-competitive acts. 

Like most things in the Philippines, I think we are on our own on this one until the NTC grows some balls and does something about this. 


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