Scam Calls in the Philippines

A photo depicting a scam call being done to an individual.

Despite the government’s best efforts to mitigate scam calls in the Philippines, the problem continues.

In fact, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) reports that 25% of unwanted calls in the country are from criminals looking for victims to defraud.

Unfortunately, even if some know better and hang up, many still fall victim to these calls.

We’re here to help you learn more about this issue. Let’s delve into scam calls from the Philippines and practical ways to protect yourself from fraud.

Types of Scam Calls in the Philippines

Depiction of an unknown caller that could be a scammer.

Awareness of the following types of scam calls provides insights into how fraudsters operate, helping you avoid or counter their tricks.

  • “One-ring” phone scams

If an unrecognized number calls your phone, rings once, and then hangs up, it’s likely a “one-ring” or “cut-call” scam. Naturally, you may feel inclined to call back.

Once you do, an automated machine will only trick you into calling a premium-rate number by claiming the call is important—perhaps a message from the government or a financial institution. 

However, these numbers charge exorbitant fees for every minute you remain on the call. Some would even impersonate legitimate institutions to make you stay on the line longer or prompt you to give sensitive information.

  • Voice phishing

Voice phishing or “vishing” uses fear tactics to trick you into providing your social security number, credit card information, or other critical data.

This approach takes more effort on the criminal’s part than emails and SMS scams, so victims are generally more trusting. Fraudsters use synthesized speech, claiming there are suspicious activities on your financial accounts.

They then direct you to a telephone number where someone asks for your personal information, pretending to verify your account but trying to access your funds.

Scammers sometimes impersonated the Philippine Post Office and called parcel recipients for their personal information to receive their shipments. They also requested the victim’s home address, making voice phishing extremely dangerous.

  • Compromised bank account calls

In some instances, scammers may pose as bank employees and claim that unauthorized transactions occurred in your accounts. Then, they request sensitive information to “verify your identity,” like account details or one-time passwords (OTPs).

However, they’ll use these data to steal your funds while you falsely believe they’re secure.

This issue happened to numerous Security Bank account holders, who became victims of impersonators in 2021. Their losses amounted to over ₱5.7 million after fraudsters accessed and stole from their accounts.

  • Call center phone scams

Some scammers operate out of call centers, making their schemes appear legitimate by impersonating technical support representatives.

Once you surrender control of your computer, believing they can help troubleshoot a malfunction, they’ll install spyware without your knowledge or take over and steal sensitive data.

Meanwhile, some scam call centers operate as investment schemes. In 2022, the PNP ACG raided a call center that had stolen AU$ 3.3 million (₱119,815,010) worth of pension funds from Australians.

  • Telemarketing scam calls

One of the classic ways scammers target their victims is by posing as legitimate businesses offering attractive deals over the phone.

They usually pressure you into purchasing or investing with the promise of high returns, such as pump-and-dump schemes and fake cryptocurrency investments. However, they’ll deliver nothing during payouts.

In 2022, the PNP ACG arrested 31 telemarketing scammers who targeted Australian and British nationals by offering them pension plans, resulting in fraud worth over AU$ 900,000 (₱32,632,112.75).

Best Practices to Avoid Scam Calls from the Philippines

Adopting the following measures can prevent financial losses and identity theft due to scams.

  • Never give sensitive information over the phone

A fundamental rule in protecting yourself from scam calls is never to share sensitive information via calls. Remember, legitimate institutions will never ask for details like passwords and credit card information.

If a caller requests such details, immediately hang up and report it to the concerned institutions and authorities.

  • Verify with the supposed concerned party

When suspicious of a call’s legitimacy, you should immediately verify it with those supposedly involved.

For instance, if a sketchy caller claims to represent a bank, hang up and reach out to the institution directly via the contact information from their website or other official correspondence. 

This step ensures you’re speaking to a legitimate representative, not a scammer. Ask questions like the bank employee’s identity, the purpose of the call you received earlier, and any other information that scammers typically don’t have access to.

  • Use a call-blocking app

Technology is your ally against scam calls. Call-blocking apps automatically identify and filter out potential scammers using a database of reported numbers.

Most smartphones also have built-in call-blocking features to help you avoid unwanted calls without downloading anything. You can then manually block suspicious numbers on your device.

  • Avoid extended interactions and hang up

Never entertain suspected phone scammers. Talking more than you should encourages them to continue calling because they think you’re falling for their tricks.

Plus, like “one-ring” phone scams, speaking longer might incur payments to premium-rate numbers. It’s best to end the call at once if you suspect it’s a scam.

  • Educate yourself and others

Knowledge is a valuable tool in the fight against scam calls. After all, what good is a fraudster if you’re completely aware and knowledgeable of their methods?

So, stay on top of the latest scam tactics and share this information with your loved ones. Make sure you teach them preventive measures and safe calling practices to create a safer digital environment for everyone.

Stay on Top of Scam Calls

The prevalence of scam calls in the Philippines is a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance and awareness. Fraudsters exploit victims’ trust and ignorance, so equip yourself and your loved ones with the information presented here.

Finally, report scam calls to the appropriate agencies so you can help mitigate these situations and protect others from fraud.

Being credible and verifiable is vital to avoid getting flagged as a scam number. So, enlist the help of Semaphore, a trusted SMS marketing partner for businesses. We offer reputable SMS solutions that can help you provide a better and more secure customer experience.

MMS Messaging Explained (A Complete Guide)

A photo depicting Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Every day, the world sends roughly 23 billion text messages or approximately 266,000 per second.

This staggering number highlights how, despite the internet’s and social media’s popularity, text messaging continues to be an integral part of daily communication—though these aren’t always the usual SMS (Short Message Service) texts. 

People use a variety of mobile apps and instant messaging platforms to talk to one another. However, one channel acts similarly to a text but can be even more engaging: multimedia messaging service (MMS). 

This article tells you everything you need to know about multimedia messaging service and why you shouldn’t ignore it, even in 2023. 

What is Multimedia Messaging (MMS)?

MMS is an extension of SMS that allows you to send and receive text messages that include audio, video, or images over a cellular network with data.

The maximum size of your messages will depend on your cellular provider; however, it typically caps at 5 MB, with the maximum file size being 500 KB.

How does it work? MMS relies on a Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMSC) to send and receive messages. The MMSC follows the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) protocol and specifications from the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).

When you send an MMS message to someone, it is first encoded and sent to the MMSC. 

Once the MMSC validates your message and the recipient, it routes a link to your message to whomever you’re sending it to. The recipient’s device connects to the MMSC through a wireless protocol, reads the link, and displays the message as you intended. 

Differences Between MMS and SMS

Depiction of MMS (Multimedia Messaging)

It’s easy to confuse MMS with SMS since some people use them interchangeably. However, they differ in several critical aspects. To better understand how both MMS and differ, here is a quick overview of both messaging services before we discuss each in-depth:

How Do MMS and SMS Differ?
Short Message Service (SMS) Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Character limits

160 characters

1600 characters

Message types

Text only

Text, audio, video, and images


₱0.50/message (excluding VAT)


Throughput rate



Network requirements Does not require Wi-Fi

Requires an internet connection

1. Character limits

Each SMS has a 160-character limit. This forces you to exercise your copywriting skills to trim messages to their essence. Although you can still send messages longer than that, devices will separate them into two, disrupting their flow.

It’s why most businesses typically use SMS for quick retail promotions or appointment reminders.  

On the other hand, your MMS messages can reach up to 1600 characters. This extra character capacity provides more creative opportunities to promote your business and provide additional details about your offers. 

2. Message types

Text is the only type of message you can send through SMS—this is the most significant difference between SMS and MMS. If you want to send extra media through an SMS, you must include a link, which counts toward the character limit. 

The media you can send through MMS can make messages more engaging for your audience, allowing you to include small images, GIFs, and audio clips. This variety provides greater creative opportunities to promote your business.

3. Average cost

SMS marketing for businesses is highly affordable, costing as low as ₱0.50 per message. The price is more appealing to companies, especially compared to MMS, which can cost ₱6.50 per message, depending on your carrier.  

4. Throughput rate

Your audience receives SMS messages faster than MMS because they have a higher throughput rate. The throughput rate refers to how many messages can be sent through a network in a given period, usually measured in messages per second (MPS). 

The MPS is lower for MMS for several reasons. The most pertinent is that MMS messages are larger than SMS because of the additional media attached; thus, networks must send more data, which takes longer than plain text SMS. 

5. Network requirements

SMS doesn’t require devices to be connected to the internet to send and receive messages. It’s an advantage that businesses using SMS marketing have relied on since not every recipient has an internet connection.

Although devices can send text-only MMS without an internet connection, these are often less efficient and take longer to reach your recipients.

Devices must be connected to the internet, typically via mobile data from the carrier, to send and receive multimedia-rich content successfully. 

Benefits of Using MMS 

MMS can still be a valuable channel your business can tap into to engage your audience, even with instant messaging applications’ popularity. 

1. Allows you to send engaging content

There’s a reason why 51.4% of marketers include some visual elements in almost all of their content. Images and videos grab more attention than plain text.

Sending multimedia content directly to your customers can be a significant advantage in differentiating your business from the competition. 

Texting also allows you to meet audience expectations. Per studies,  prefer to receive promotions and relevant offers through text. Exciting imagery and persuasive copy can amplify your MMS messages to propel your marketing campaigns to success.

2. High character limit

Since MMS doesn’t have the 160-character limit as SMS, it gives you more space to provide details about your offers and create captivating marketing copy.

For instance, if you’re running a giveaway, you can tell users about the prize, mechanics, and general terms and conditions all in a single message without redirecting them to your website. 

It doesn’t mean you should write for the sake of writing. Following SMS marketing best practices still applies in MMS campaigns, such as providing immediate value and writing in a conversational tone.

3. Greater chance of being read

People spend a lot of time on their phones—in particular, Filipino internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 spend an average of five hours and 31 minutes on their phones.

Due to that screen time, there’s a high likelihood that your Filipino audience will see and read your messages.

Tailoring your message to the recipient can also increase the chances of audiences reading your MMS. Studies show that 71% of customers expect businesses to personalize their interactions; generally, non-personalized interactions frustrate 76%. 

These benefits show that MMS is worth considering for your next mobile marketing campaigns. That said, you should also weigh its cons to avoid costly mistakes. 

Drawbacks of Using MMS 

Despite the advantages of MMS, it doesn’t mean it’s the perfect marketing channel. It still has a few drawbacks you shouldn’t ignore. 

1. Costs more than SMS

As mentioned, MMS can cost as much as ₱6.50 per message, which can be expensive if you send them out regularly. Typically, cost is the primary reason why businesses would rather invest in SMS marketing campaigns over MMS. 

Despite the cost, inserting images and audio clips into your messages can entice leads to contact your brand or audiences to follow through with their purchase. It will then help to consider your potential returns if you want to send promotional MMS messages. 

If you’re looking into social media marketing, know it is still more expensive than MMS, potentially costing you thousands depending on the agency and the services you choose. 

2. Feature availability varies 

Countries and providers handle multimedia messaging differently. For instance, bulk sending MMS messages is unavailable in the Philippines. This limitation can often be a dealbreaker for large businesses wanting to reach as many customers as possible.

Message limits can depend, too, with some capping it at only 600 KB. It’s best to work closely with your chosen provider to understand your MMS capabilities before launching your mobile marketing campaigns

3. Compatibility issues

Although smartphones can receive MMS, that doesn’t mean it will look the same across all devices. Screen resolutions, sizes, operating systems, and other factors may cause compatibility issues when sending multimedia messages. 

Additionally, only phones with an internet connection can receive MMS messages, narrowing your potential audience further. You may struggle to reach people residing in highly remote locations with your MMS messages. 

Using Multimedia Messaging Service 



Allows you to send engaging content

Costs more than SMS

High character limit

Feature availability varies

Greater chance of being read

Compatibility issues

Know When to Use MMS and SMS 

MMS can benefit your business, despite more advanced methods of communication becoming popular. The ability to attach images, videos, and audio allows you to send out content-rich messages to capture your audience. 

A restaurant, for example, can send photos of its latest menu items to entice foodies to visit or book reservations. MMS can also work well if you run an eCommerce business.

Through MMS, you can send photos of your upcoming products or an exciting visual to announce a limited-time sale with an additional link to your store. 

*Disclaimer – While bulk MMS isn’t supported in the Philippines, SMS is, making SMS marketing a potentially lucrative channel for your business. 
Check out Semaphore’s leading business SMS solutions to learn how to maximize this text-based channel that isn’t going away anytime soon.

SMS Statistics in the Philippines

For most people, texting is one of the quickest ways to connect with someone. Around 65% of the global population uses text messaging, and another 6 billion have phone access.

Today, the Philippines holds the remarkable distinction of being the world’s SMS (short-message-service) capital. Despite the rise of various messaging apps and social media platforms, SMS still plays a significant role in communication throughout the country.

That’s why understanding how people utilize SMS in the Philippines is crucial for effectively connecting with your brand’s audience.

Whether you’re a marketer, entrepreneur, or simply curious about the role of SMS in the digital age, this blog will shed light on the enduring power of this ubiquitous messaging medium.

Discover the unique landscape of SMS in the Philippines and unlock its potential for your business!

8 SMS Statistics in the Philippines You Should Know


  • Official organizations in the Philippines continue to rely on SMS as a vital means of communication for important notifications (PhilStar)

Official organizations in the Philippines continue to rely on SMS for important notifications, including banks and weather warnings, for several reasons.

Firstly, SMS offers widespread coverage and accessibility, ensuring messages reach a large population—including those without an internet connection. Secondly, it is a reliable and instant communication channel, delivering urgent information promptly.

You can invest in infrastructure improvements, integrate SMS with other communication channels, and leverage data analytics to tailor messages effectively and make the platform work for you.

Embracing emerging technologies and adopting secure messaging protocols can also strengthen the SMS system, ensuring efficient and reliable communication with the public.


  • A mobile phone user in the Philippines sends approximately 600 text messages per month (BBC)

You can attribute this statistic to several factors, such as the affordability and widespread availability of SMS packages, the prevalence of feature phones, and cultural preferences for text-based communication.

To capitalize on this trend, you can invest in SMS marketing campaigns, tailor messaging to suit customer preferences, and explore innovative ways to engage with your target audience through SMS.

With the time Filipinos spend on their phones—paired with the number of text messages they send daily—you have a high chance of getting your message across. 


The competitive pricing of SMS services in the Philippines, with a significant portion of traffic sold at half a cent, benefits your business by allowing you to reach a larger audience within your target market at a lower cost.

This affordability enables you to implement more frequent communication strategies, fostering more robust customer relationships and building brand loyalty.

It also levels the playing field for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) so they can compete effectively with larger corporations. You can explore innovative marketing strategies, such as mobile coupons and event notifications, without exorbitant expenses. 


  • 40% of SMS traffic in PH showed evidence of manipulated content (Vox Solutions)

As a business owner, addressing manipulated content in SMS traffic is crucial to maintaining trust and reliability. Manipulation can involve spreading false information, scams, or phishing attempts. Mobile service providers and regulatory bodies play a role in mitigating this issue.

However, you can also protect your customers by implementing robust security measures like content filtering, spam detection, and user education campaigns to minimize the impact of manipulated content.


  • There are over 149 million mobile subscriptions in the Philippines (Statista)

Despite the increasing prominence of mobile phones, social media apps, and messaging software in the Philippines, mobile text messages continue to hold a significant position in the lives of Filipinos—with a staggering number of over 149 million mobile subscriptions in the country.

Incorporating SMS into your business communication strategy can be a powerful way to engage with your Filipino audience. Leveraging SMS boosts your business’s mobile app adoption.


  • 73% of Filipinos used SMS compared to 33% who opted for instant messaging (IM) (Warc)

In the Philippines, SMS remains the communication method of choice for almost three-quarters of mobile consumers, despite the popularity of IM apps across Southeast Asia.

Among IM users, Facebook Messenger was the top choice. This unique preference allows you to leverage SMS as a direct and effective channel for customer engagement.

Incorporating SMS marketing strategies can connect you with your target audience and deliver personalized messages that resonate with Filipino consumers, increasing your chances of conversion.


  • 79% of Filipinos check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up (Warc)

Filipino mobile users exhibit a remarkable devotion to their devices. Seventy-nine percent of them check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up, surpassing the regional average.

This mobile-centric behavior provides valuable opportunities to effectively connect and engage with your target audience.

With this insight, you can tailor your marketing strategies to optimize engagement during key moments, such as morning interactions and commuting.

You can effectively deliver personalized messages, seize attention during daily routines, and utilize mobile devices as a powerful platform to engage and captivate your audience.


  • In 2020, users in the Philippines significantly increased their engagement with SMS (Statista)

Users in the Philippines notably increased their engagement time with SMS, mainly because it is a widely accessible and familiar mode of communication, especially for people in areas with limited internet connectivity.

Additionally, the convenience, cost-effectiveness, and reliability of SMS make it a preferred choice for daily communication needs.

To capitalize on this trend, you can implement targeted campaigns, optimize message content, and leverage SMS as a primary customer communication channel to effectively connect with your target audience and enhance their experiences.

Embracing the Potential of SMS Marketing in the Philippines

Stay attuned to evolving communication trends and engage your audience in this vibrant landscape. Understanding the pulse of SMS in the Philippines is the key to building stronger connections and driving business growth. Don’t miss out on the opportunities in this thriving communication realm.
Contact Semaphore today and get best-in-class SMS solutions today! With our expertise and tailored solutions, we can help you navigate this dynamic landscape and leverage SMS to its fullest potential.