Mobile wallet app starts hiding certain letters in recipients’ names amid wave of SMS scams

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A popular e-wallet service is now hiding certain letters in recipients’ names amid a rise in personalized SMS scams.

On Thursday the media reported that GCash users could no longer see the full names of cash recipients on the confirmation page each time they sent money.

The platform asks users to enter their full name if they want their accounts to be “fully verified”. This earns them a tick symbol in their profiles.

A fully verified account allows the user to access all e-wallet features and services, including the ability to send money and make bank transfers. This also allows them to take advantage of increased wallet and transaction limits.

The app has become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as digital transactions have become the norm to reduce physical contact.

Meanwhile, some Filipinos hailed the development amid the wave of SMS scams addressing recipients by name.

“Okay, I can now subscribe to private TG [Telegram] chains lol”, a twitter user said.

“Like it should be !” another one user wrote.

“It’s a good start from GCash for more secure transactions,” another commented. Pinoy.

Others, however, found the initiative “late”.

“How is that going to help now when these spammers already have our names in their stupid little database,” somebody tweeted.

“Too late. They should have put this in place from day one,” another twitter user said.

A Filipino commented that the metric is “not really useful” since the user can still see the recipient’s full name in the message prompt after completing the transaction.

“It’s not really helpful kasi si mag-send ka ng pera (I tried that), the name still pops up in message receipt. Malalagay doon, ‘You sent…to [FULL NAME]’,” a twitter user said.

GCash recently said it would stop sending user notifications via SMS amid rising SMS spam.

Instead, notifications will be sent to their in-app inboxes to “ensure that users only receive legitimate messages regarding their GCash transactions”, according to GCash’s Chief Risk Officer. Ingrid Rose Ann Berona.

The e-wallet service also maintained that there had been no data breaches in its systems amid online speculation that personalized SMS scams were linked to them.

“We have worked closely with the National Privacy Commission on the issue of text scams with names. We want to assure our customers that our systems and infrastructure remain secure and that there are no incidences of data leaks or breaches,” said GCash’s Chief Information Security Officer. Marc Frogoso said in a statement.

“Protecting our customers’ personal information remains a top priority which we believe is an integral part of our vision of achieving ‘Finance for All’,” he added.

“We need to strike a balance between customer experience and strengthening measures to protect user information from unscrupulous individuals,” Frogoso continued.

World said it blocked some 784 million spam messages from January to the end of July this year thanks to its intensified filtering efforts. It also deactivated 14,058 cellphone numbers linked to scams and blacklisted 8,973.

The National Privacy Commission said that according to its initial investigation, recent instances of smishing messages were sent via phone-to-phone transmissions and not via data aggregators.

Among those who received spam text messages with names is Sen. Nancy Binaywho immediately pointed out the need to take action against the scammers.

READ ALSO : NPC probes unsolicited SMS with full names of recipients

The Senate Public Utilities Committeewith the Senate Committee on Commerce, Commerce and EntrepreneurshipThursday is hosting a hearing on the proliferation of SMS scams and spam.

About Sandra A. Powell

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