“Looking for a full-time job with a daily income of insert sky-high amount here? Click this link!” If you’ve also received one of these, or even more annoyingly a plethora of similar messages – know that you’re not alone. More and more netizens have been reporting that these “contact tracing spam texts” have been finding their way in their inboxes. Blocking these suspicious phone numbers is just like cutting a head off a Hydra, because two more senders return in its place.
When these messages began to spread like wildfire, most people took their frustrations to social media platforms such as Twitter.
Facebook was not spared as well, with countless netizens venting through their News Feeds and airing out their dirty laundry.
Some have also taken jabs at the contact tracing program altogether. There are rumors floating around Twitter that no one has ever been communicated to as a result of a positive close contact case from a tracing form. It appears that individuals tired of the system in place are using the internet to gather the truth behind all this.
If we take all our biases aside, there is no concrete evidence that these two are linked, at least with the information we have at the time of writing. SMS phishing or “smishing” has been around since the early days. These would usually come in the form of fake lottery wins, foreign princes urgently needing to ship out money, or other obvious rug pulls. Now that we are in a time of unemployment, it could be said that the same scammers are simply changing tactics to ride with the times. Some are catching on to this theory through observation of the patterns, which has also been discussed on social media.
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has already released a statement on the concerns. To summarize, the most important steps are to filter messages from unknown senders and report suspicious messages as spam if possible. Smart Communications has also given similar advice in a graphic of their own.
Despite all this, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has firmly stated that citizens should continue filling out contact tracing forms, for the benefit of our medical professionals. The DOH and NPC are working behind the scenes to investigate whether or not these really contact tracing spam texts, in order to eradicate potential threats to safety.
Overall, one of the most important things to remember is to take care of your own information like you would your finances – especially in this digital age. It would be difficult if a hacker were to tarnish your name by manipulating others on your behalf.
As people become more tech-savvy, the hackers are upping their game too. Old dogs are definitely learning new tricks at our expense. Always remain vigilant and alert!