Cabaero: Punctuation marks

·2 min read

The answer to “personalized” scam is “anonymizing” names on e-wallets. Plenty of quotation marks in the fight against digital scams but there is no exclamation point to end the fraud.

Credit goes to telecommunications companies for taking immediate action on the innovation introduced by fraudsters to use the names of online users to personalize their messages. The steps being taken by these companies are more than the usual pronouncements of government agencies which continue to tell us they will investigate the matter.

GCash introduced masking the name of the recipient in reaction to social media concerns that names of potential victims were taken from e-wallets. Instead of seeing the full name of the recipient, the sender will see asterisks in the place of some of the letters, based on the decision taken by GCash. Another move lined up by GCash is to stop the confirmation text messages and instead have verification of transactions via the app inbox. This move is still pending.

Smart Communications, for its part, is conducting simulation tests of their response to the clamor to stop the “personalized” scam attempts on online users.

These measures come days after the new way to deceive the public was revealed. The response of telcos was immediate, or at least their effort to seek solutions, but the action required to put an end to online scams go beyond that.

The recent uproar was on seeing the names of consumers in the text scam message but the problem goes back to how scammers in the first place were able to access our full names and why government agencies and the telcos cannot trace the cause of the problem. Masking or “anonymizing” names on e-wallets may help fight the online scam but it presents a problem for the user.

As a GCash user, I prefer to see the name of the person I am sending money to as a measure against a missend. While the masking of recipient’s name is in reaction to the new way of scamming, it should be temporary or an initial step while the telco and the government agencies decide on what has to be done.

Among the measures that could work are the implementation of SIM card registration, the arrest of fraudsters, and the prosecution of entities that work with them by giving them personal data to target victims. These definitely will not need quotation marks and asterisks.

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The nine-day novena masses for the feast of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia are ongoing until fiesta day next Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, at the Capitol parish church along N. Escario Street in Cebu City.

Novena masses at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish-Capitol are at 6:15 p.m. on weekdays and at 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Masses and the fiesta celebration are being organized by the Bicol Association of Cebu Inc. (Baci). Bicolanos in Cebu are invited to join.