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Criminals commit fraudulent activities via online messaging platforms – Smart

“We have deactivated all unregistered SIMs at the end of the registration period. And we continue to block mobile numbers that are being used in illegal activities. But hackers have since migrated to over-the-top services (OTTs) such as online messaging platforms,” said Atty. Roy Ibay, Vice President and Head of Regulatory Affairs at Smart. 

PLDT’s wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. enjoins customers to remain vigilant against text scams. The mobile operator says customer should not entertain calls or texts from unknown entities. Smart also advises customers against clicking links from suspicious messages, reiterating that only customers with registered SIMs can send outgoing calls and text messages and access the mobile carrier’s data services. 

“We have deactivated all unregistered SIMs at the end of the registration period. And we continue to block mobile numbers that are being used in illegal activities. But hackers have since migrated to over-the-top services (OTTs) such as online messaging platforms,” said Atty. Roy Ibay, Vice President and Head of Regulatory Affairs at Smart. 

OTTs include popular instant messaging applications like Viber, WhatsApp, and Messenger. While these platforms require an active mobile number to register, users don’t need to connect with their SIM’s mobile data network to access services provided by these OTTs. 

“Our observation is that, although deactivated numbers may not be able to use the basic services of the mobile operator, users can still use messaging and voice call services provided by OTTs if they registered their numbers with the OTT platform prior to the deadline or before getting deactivated,” Ibay further explained. 

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Smart uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology in SIM registration, not only to help verify submitted information and data, but also to protect and secure its subscribers. 

“Through this technology, information and data in government-issued IDs submitted by customers like name and date of birth are automatically transcribed in the SIM registration form. The same OCR technology is being employed to capture and validate selfies using facial recognition,” Ibay added. 

Smart has been actively clamping down on criminal activities being perpetrated over mobile services, permanently blocking fraud-related SIMs in a 24/7 operation. From January to July this year, Smart has prevented more than 40 million SMShing messages from reaching customers. It has also blocked from its network more than 211,000 mobile numbers tied to phishing activities. 

If you have received phishing messages, Smart urges you to take a screenshot of the message and report the incident to cybersecurityincidents@smart.com.ph

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