Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step up efforts in hunting down online scammers who proliferated during the quarantine. Gatchalian said authorities should beef up their online presence to safeguard Filipinos against online scams and other related cybercrimes.
As more Filipinos spend most of their time online during this time of the pandemic, Gatchalian said cyber criminals take advantage of preying on vulnerable people as they seek out information and data on the internet to maximize revenue.
The Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs called for stricter online monitoring by the authorities as well as rigorous information dissemination on the latest online scams to ensure that potential victims will not fall prey to those who exploit the prevailing health crisis.
The senator noted the 100% increase in cybercrime activities in the country in April, particularly online scams through phishing as reported by the NBI Cybercrime Division. American consumer credit reporting agency TransUnion reported in May 13, 2020 that suspected fraudulent digital transactions worldwide have increased from March to April this year.
Out of the 9,215 adults surveyed in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, and the U.K., 29% of the respondents said they were targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19. TransUnion also noted that millennials have been most targeted by fraudsters using COVID-19 scams.
He also called on the public to be extra vigilant in giving their personal data online especially concerning credit card or money transfer.
“Sa panahon ng pandemya na ang lahat ng Pilipino ay nakatutok sa internet dahil sa umiiral na community quarantine at social distancing, maraming sindikato ang nagsasamantala upang makapanloko para sa sarili nilang kapakanan. Kaya dapat paigtingin pa ng ating mga awtoridad ang pagbabantay sa iba’t ibang bagong scams na magsusulputan sa panahon ng pandemya upang maprotektahan natin ang ating mga kababayan,” Gatchalian said.
The senator advises precautionary measures such as looking closely at email sender addresses, being cautious in opening attachments especially coming from unknown sources, and being suspicious from those who call to verify any pertinent information. He also tells the public to secure their browsers and create a back-up for important files in case of cyberattack.
It is also important, Gatchalian said, for the public to immediately report such crimes to the PNP and NBI for proper action and documentation.