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Converge urges employees, public to ‘protect your heart, wallet, and privacy this February’

“When it comes to cyber dating, ika nga #Budol is real. We don’t want to find ourselves in the situation where we’re heart broken and at the same time, “catfished” and scammed out of our hard-earned money,” warned Eumir Espiritu, Converge AVP and Head of Data Privacy, in his remarks for the #UnMatch webinar, hosted by Converge as part of its Safer Internet campaign. 

With the popularity of online dating and the prevalence of online interactions, it’s harder to spot the so-called ‘red flags’ today than ever before. This is why leading fiber broadband provider Converge teamed up this Safer Internet Month with citizen cyber education organization Scam Watch Pilipinas to outline the do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding love online. 

“When it comes to cyber dating, ika nga #Budol is real. We don’t want to find ourselves in the situation where we’re heart broken and at the same time, “catfished” and scammed out of our hard-earned money,” warned Eumir Espiritu, Converge AVP and Head of Data Privacy, in his remarks for the #UnMatch webinar, hosted by Converge as part of its Safer Internet campaign. 

Given that that situation has become a reality for so many, as attested to by Scam Watch Pilipinas founders Art Samaniego Jr. and Jocel De Guzman, here are some practical tips to avoid getting your heart broken (and your wallet emptied): 

  1. Practice cyber hygiene

Education in cybersecurity practice is the core mission of Scam Watch, said Mr. De Guzman, because citizens are simply uninformed about basic “cyber hygiene” – important security habits meant to protect oneself from a cyber attack. Mr. De Guzman shared four “attitudes” to take in keeping one’s guard up in confronting a possible cyber threat : Magdamot, Magduda, Mang-Isnob, and Magsumbong

  1. Don’t underestimate your password protection

Your account password is akin to the first lock on your door – it’s the first layer of security you have against cyber criminals, so make sure to make it a strong one, says Art Samaniego Jr. who is also the Manila Bulletin Technology Editor. He recommends 8-14 characters and a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols for maximum security. If these are in combination, it’ll take several months before hackers can crack your password.  

  1. Cyber scams – including love scams – are a real and ongoing threat

Being defrauded or scammed may seem like something that would happen to others but not to you, but actually, the Philippine National Police – Anti Cybercrime Group reports numbers that show cyber crimes happen more often than one thinks. In 2023, they investigated more than 16,000 incidents and the value lost from these scams have amounted to Php 155 million, shared Mr. Espiritu. Being extra vigilant and alert to these ploys is a must, especially with so much of our lives spent online, the Data Privacy head added. 

“As a leading fiber internet provider and actually, as the fastest internet service provider in the Philippines as validated by Ookla, Converge recognizes its responsibility to promote ways to be smart and safe online. We’ve always advocated for a safe internet environment, we don’t want our internet highway to be used by cyber criminals. We want our customers to be safe. And education is key to this,” said Converge VP and Head of Corporate Communications and Public Relations Jay-Anne Encarnado in her closing remarks.

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Filipinos who find themselves victim to online scams may reach out to Scam Watch Pilipinas through https://scamwatchpilipinas.com/ for reporting or call The Inter-Agency Response Center (I-ARC) Hotline 1326 within 24 hours of the crime.

I-ARC  is the joint project of Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT), Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), National Privacy Commission (NPC) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to centralize reporting of online scams to the government.

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