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.

Alex built Semaphore’s tech backbone and keeps it running smoothly. With deep experience in tech: Over 20 years in Web Development, IT and Infrastructure; 10+ years management experience in technology; and an expert in enterprise application architecture, development and tech processes, Alex is an old-hat in bridging the gap between geeks and suits as well as applying tech to real-world business problems. Connect with Alex on LinkedIn.