Have you ever received a text message from an unregistered number saying you have won a huge prize for a contest you don’t remember joining at all? Here are two scam text messages I have received:
June 29, 2011
Congratulations! Last Jun/29/2011 Ur Cell# had Won! P750,000+N95:frm-PCCNS DTI NCR Permit#1948-S’of11-to Claim Ur Prize! Pls Call me Now! IM ATTY.MARK Mendez
January 17, 2012
(Congrats)!Ur SIMcard#won Php880,000.2nd prize winner draw last night.To claim ur prize,pls call me now!I’m Atty.Miguel A.Lopez.,Per DTI#5247seriEs of 2012.
The two SMS were sent seven months apart but they follow essentially the same structure. First, the sender tells me that my number won a particular amount through an unspecified promo. Notice that the message sender (which purports to be a lawyer on both occasions) is urging me to call him immediately for my prize.
Then, they use a fake promo permit number from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to give their modus operandi a semblance of authenticity. You can easily countercheck this through the DTI website.
Here’s what I found out:
Permit # 1948 – Love Life Discount Health Card from the St. Luke’s Medical Center
Permit # 5247 – HSBC Premier’s 2011 Member Get Member Promo
Therefore, I have proved without any doubt that the text messages I got were plain scams. According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the public should watch for the following warning signs:
1. You don’t know the person who sent you the message.
2. You are asked to provide your bank account number and the sender offers to deposit money into it.
3. The request contains a sense of urgency.
4. The text message appeared credible because it supposedly came from a trusted government institution and/or a well-known government official.
5. The person texting you appeared to be credible (like a lawyer).
The two scam messages I received fits in three of the five situations mentioned above. In its website, the DTI posted a story where the victim gave her bank account number to an anonymous texter, confident that the latter will not be able to access her money. Much to her regret, she found out later on that the P10000 balance in her ATM account had been wiped out. To avoid being victimized by text scammers, the trade department has these reminders to the public:
- Kung wala ka namang sinalihan na promo, napakaliit ng posibilidad na ikaw ay nanalo ng isang malaking premyo.
- Ang mga nananalo ng malaking premyo sa isang promo ay pinapadalhan ng sulat o telegrama upang sabihin na sila ay nanalo at hindi sa pamamagitan ng text message lamang.
- Huwag basta-basta magbigay ng mahalagang impormasyon tungkol sa iyong sarili gaya ng address sa bahay at opisina, pangalan, at lalong-lalo na ang bank account number na diumano ay gagamitin “for verification.”
- Lalong huwag magdeposito ng pera sa isang bank account number at huwag magpadala ng prepaid load na diumano ay para sa “tax” ng inyong premyo.
The public can call the DTI at 751-3330 for their complaints. Scam text promos can also be reported to the National Telecommunications Commission website (www.ntc.gov.ph), which ironically is inaccessible at this moment.