Going gital

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

Two days after the SIM card registration deadline, I received a text addressing me by name and telling me to “Seize the rewards: Deposit 100, Get 100% up to 1,000 welcome bonus, Get 3% Extra deposit bonus. Sign up now winplus-play0.com” This, I am told, is smishing.

Since then I have received two more text messages, from different numbers. One said: “LandBank Alert: Your mobile number is currently suspended, if your number still active, verify here: mland-bankaccess.com to continue receiving OTP.”

Of course there’s no doubt these are scam texts and I have not one iota of intention of replying. In the first place, I do not have a LandBank account. I am a very loyal customer of what my colleague describes as a “wackadoo” bank, which is to say it is not one of those huge megabanks so scammers don’t waste their time targeting its clients. I have previously received similar texts regarding my imaginary BDO and Unionbank accounts.

The other text just yesterday said I should “Join Sugarplay now: P2,000 Welcome bonus + 3% Extra on Paymaya + Play Baccarat to get up to P2,500 giveaway. Visit sgbetpera2.com” I guess this must be one of those online gambling sites.

My point of bringing all this up is – why am I still getting these scam texts, and I hazard a guess that I’m not the only one still getting them. Isn’t the whole SIM registration exercise supposed to prevent/eliminate/stop such annoying scam texts?

The Department of Information and Communications Technology trumpeted that they were on target, with 63 percent or over 105 million SIM cards registered by the deadline last July 25. The unregistered have five days to “revive” their deactivated SIM cards, or forever lose their line.

The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center of the DICT insists that cyber scams will be eradicated with the full implementation of the SIM card registration. I want to believe them, so I’m willing to give it a couple of weeks perhaps and hope that I won’t be getting these texts anymore, especially at night.

For one who still carries cash and for whom a credit card is a nod to “modern” payment systems – stop snickering! – all this talk of digitalizing financial transactions and engagement with the government bureaucracy is a bit daunting.

Fully digitalizing client dealings with agencies like the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue is definitely a good idea, hopefully this can eliminate most if not all of the shenanigans that go on with inspectors and assessors and all that. Although those folks whose “livelihoods” may be greatly curtailed by this move to go digital may find creative ways around it; this may just be an urban myth but pork lard or similarly yummy stuff was smeared on the wirings so rats would gnaw at them and render the x-ray machines at the piers unusable, so it was back to human inspection. That’s Pinoy resourcefulness; if there’s a will (especially ill will), there surely is a way!

Even transacting with local governments like getting business permits and paying real estate taxes is supposed to be done online now. I’ll have to see how that goes when I pay my tax at the end of the year.

Going digital and doing things online is really the way forward, but the most basic thing is that every barangay and household must have digital access. A national broadband network, public WiFi must reach all our island communities. Every family, every farmer and sari sari store owner, every truck driver and village marites must be able to log on and get connected – whether it is to a government agency or the boss in the office or online classes or TikTok – without having to go up on the roof or out on the street trying to catch a signal.

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