Monday, September 7, 2015

4Ps not spared from text scam
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 6 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has warned the public against text scams fraudulently using the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Being implemented by the DSWD, the 4Ps is a poverty-alleviation initiative of the government that works on the improvement of education and health of children aged 0-18 by way of providing Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) grants to families listed as the poorest of the poor.

These financial grants are a work in progress and do not attempt to solve poverty immediately, but instead aim to alleviate it by providing social protection tools through interventions such us empowerment, participation and economic opportunities to the poor.

It is under this broader role that the DSWD, the program’s lead implementing agency, has been doing means to break intergenerational poverty cycle in the long run where long-term poverty alleviation comes into play.

The program also helps the government fulfill the country’s commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as to: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Achieve Universal Primary Education, Promote Gender Equality, Reduce Child Mortality and, Improve Maternal Health.

There are now more than 375,500 households, including those that belong to Indigenous People communities, benefiting from this program in Bicol, a region which, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), is one of the poorest among the country’s 18 regions.

Based on its latest poverty estimates, the PSA said Bicol is ranked seventh poorest among regions with its 34.1-percent poverty incidents during the first half of 2012, an improvement from fourth in 2006 to 2009 when the regional poverty rate was at 36.5 percent.

This improvement is attributed in part to the implementation of the 4Ps.

And while the program under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III continues to provide the marginalized sector an avenue to break the string of dearth that for decades pinned most of their communities to the vicious cycle of life difficulties, here comes these text scammers taking advantage of its popularity to defraud possible victims of their hard-earned cash the tricky way.

In warning the public, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia over the weekend here said that an example of the false scheme is a text message that says: “Congrats, from: President Noy Noy Aquino Foundation. 4PS Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Your sim # won Php950,000.00 2nd prize winner, handog pangkabuhayan raffle promo! DTI P#9513,S’15, pls. text complete NAME/ADDRESS/OCCUPATION.”

“We have nothing to do with such alleged promo. The department urges all those who may receive this text message not to respond, instead, immediately report to the nearest DSWD office or text to the Pantawid Pamilya Grievance Text Hotline 0918-912-2813,” he said.

Indeed, according to local telecommunications operators, text scams have been around almost as long as mobile phones and some individuals are still coming up with new ways to con people out of their hard-earned cash and some people fall for the scams so easily because sometimes all it takes is a single reply to a text message to get hooked.

The unexpected prize text message scam, they explained, happens when a mobile phone user receives a text message stating that he/she has won a prize and the scam side of this includes part of the message stating that to receive the prize, money must first be sent to the sender of the text. Prizes are more likely to never arrive, they said.

“Scammers invent convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about offers of money. Don’t be too quick to believe any text that states anything about parting with money for a prize,” they advised.

According to Globe Telecom, its mobile customers should take precaution and not fall victim to text scams on supposed "discount", "refund", "prizes", "stranded relatives" and other fraudulent claims but are actually share-a-load transactions.

The text scams, directed mostly to postpaid customers of Globe, tricks subscribers into sending load credits through various fraudulent claims and in the case of supposed "discount" or "refund", the company emphasized that legitimate advisories from the telecommunications provider are labeled from "GLOBE" and do not come from 11-digit numbers.

It also reminded subscribers that by adding the number "2" before the 10-digit cell phone number of the recipient, the unsuspecting subscriber would have done a Share-A-Load transaction, thus, a certain sum of money would be transferred or credited to the prepaid number to which the message was sent.

Another text scam informs customers they supposedly won in a raffle contest they never participated in and the text message provides "steps" on how to claim the prize.

Another one involves relatives working abroad supposedly using a new prepaid number, also aimed at tricking subscribers into doing a Share-A-Load transaction.

Globe customers are advised not to respond and, instead, immediately report suspicious text messages to authorized Globe customer service channels.

But all the company can do against these scammers is to immediately disconnect from service the number once validated that it is indeed being used for such unscrupulous activities.

The National Telecommunications Commission, which is mandated with regulating mobile services, on the other hand, has previously admitted the difficulty in stopping scammers because when they block a certain SIM (subscribers identity module) from sending messages, its owner can easily get a new one. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC