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Singapore halts 180 million scam calls in first half of 2023; ScamShield blocks 80,000 numbers

During Parliamentary session on Wednesday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling unveiled that local Telcos thwarted 180 million suspected scam calls in 2023’s first half.

In response to MP’s suggestion to pre-install ScamShield on all new mobile devices, Ms Sun acknowledged that the government did consider it before, but has decided not to proceed.

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SINGAPORE: During Parliament sitting on Wednesday (22 Nov), Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Home Affairs disclosed that local Telcos had blocked approximately 180 million suspected scam calls in the initial six months of 2023.

Additionally, the police identified over 3,700 mobile lines, suspected to be utilized by scammers, and notified Telcos for termination within the same timeframe.

Ms Sun highlighted these measures as complementary to the ScamShield mobile app, a mobile application aimed at preventing scams since its launch, which has garnered 750,000 downloads across iOS and Android devices as of October.

Ms Sun said the significant surge in downloads since August 2022, stating that back then, the app had garnered 300,400 users of iOS devices, as reported by the police.

Ms Sun provided this information in response to a Parliamentary Question raised by Yip Hon Weng, the PAP MP for Yio Chu Kang SMC, and Derrick Goh, MP for Nee Soon GRC.

Both Mr Yip and Mr Goh inquired about the effectiveness and adoption rate of ScamShield.

Specifically, they sought information on the percentage of the local population that has downloaded the app, its effectiveness in preventing scams, and whether the Ministry intends to extend its usage to identify and block scammers across various social media, e-commerce platforms, and messaging applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.

Mr Goh also asked about the public adoption rate, the Ministry’s assessment of ScamShield’s effectiveness, and its compatibility with malware detection apps used in banking.

ScamShield blacklisting 80,000 scam numbers and flagging 5 million suspicious SMS since March 2022

The ScamShield app, launched in late 2022, aids individuals in filtering out scam messages and calls originating from numbers associated with illicit activities.

Numbers identified by the app as linked to scams are automatically blocked.

Ms Sun, who also serves as the Minister of State for Social and Family Development, emphasized the app’s effectiveness in safeguarding users.

Since March 2022, it has blacklisted and blocked 80,000 unique phone numbers associated with scams and flagged approximately five million SMS messages as potential scams to users.

Suggestion to pre-install ScamShield on all new mobile devices

Mr Yip also inquired whether the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) would collaborate with the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) to pre-install ScamShield on all new mobile devices, aiming to promote its usage.

In response, Ms Sun acknowledged that the government did consider it before, but has decided not to proceed.

She outlined three reasons why the government wouldn’t mandate the pre-installation of the ScamShield app on new mobile phones.

Firstly, not all users might consent to having the app pre-installed.

Secondly, for the app to function optimally, users need to configure permission settings.

Ms Sun remarked, “Even if we were to pre-load the app, if the user does not know how to execute the permission settings, ScamShield will not be able to work effectively.”

Thirdly, there’s a possibility that mobile phone users may deactivate or remove the app post-installation.

However, Ms Sun added that the government would keep this option open if endeavours to encourage ScamShield app downloads do not yield significant progress.

Separately, in response to a supplementary question posed by Mr Goh, Ms Sun mentioned that GovTech is actively enhancing the ScamShield app.

The improvements aim to facilitate easier reporting of scams by users.

She further emphasized that GovTech is focused on refining scam SMS detection accuracy and simplifying permission settings for users.

Additionally, Ms Sun highlighted the efforts of the Cyber Security Agency and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in promoting better cyber hygiene practices among the public.

This includes advocating for the downloading of apps exclusively from Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store to protect against malware scams.

Scam-related losses in Singapore hit S$2 billion over 3-year period

Between January 2020 and June 2023, victims in Singapore suffered approximately S$2 billion in losses due to scams.

Globally, scammers were estimated to have stolen around US$1.02 trillion from August 2022 to August 2023, as reported by a study conducted by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and ScamAdviser, a data service provider.

On 25 October, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and IMDA proposed the Shared Responsibility Framework to address losses resulting from scams and allocate responsibility among financial institutions, telcos, and consumers.

The framework mandates that financial institutions and telcos failing in their responsibilities will be required to reimburse victims of specific phishing scams.

Negligence, such as banks’ failure to send outgoing transaction alerts or telcos’ lack of implementation of scam filters for SMSes, are areas outlined within this framework.

Separately, The Central Provident Fund (CPF) announced on Monday a default online withdrawal limit of S$2,000 (approximately US$1,490) per day will be enforced for all CPF members aged 55 and above in Singapore.

This measure aims to enhance the protection of Central Provident Fund (CPF) members against potential scams.

CPF members have the flexibility to adjust this daily limit between S$0 and S$200,000 by accessing their accounts online.

However, any increase in the withdrawal limit requires Singpass face verification (SFV) and includes a mandatory 12-hour cooling period to prevent unauthorized modifications, as specified by the CPF Board.

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Show evidence otherwise it’s fáke news

These LIARS are really Classic Millionaires.

What is 180 million? Out of? 500 million, then what’s the PERCENTAGE? Block out 30 or 50 per cent only?

80,000? Again, OUT OF xxx? Only 20 per cent EFFFECTIVE?

When come to EVASIVE answers the PAP Administration is MASTER TWISTER and CONCEALER.

Thank you for importing more than 1 million of foreigners. thank you

Most victims are Singaporeans.

Mee Siam Mai Hum: Lets Move On !! ” its Unavoidable” What do you think?

The quality of our current million$ ministers is really appalling. When asked about effectiveness, they give absolute numbers instead of percentages. So what they blocked 180m scam calls, 180m out of how many scams? 360m – 50% effective, 900m – 20% effective, etc. What is the acceptable level of effectiveness – 80%, 90%, 99.9999% for million$ pay?

This Ah Sun got passed A-level or not?

We are literally losing BILLIONS and getting NOTHING in return. And I mean this in our balance-of-payment account. Our telcos are not doing enough if I’m an example. I STILL keep getting scam calls on almost a DAILY basis. All I need is to hear the first few words of the first sentence and I KNOW it is a scam call. HOW can the telco scam filtering system not recognise it as such as well? And I thought they are all scrambling onto the AI bandwagon. It can only mean that the telcos DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING with… Read more »

Btw there is a thing call Block in your call function. You dun need a scam shield to block a number. Any number you dunno dun answer, send to block. Only accept call number you know or expecting. Period.

And dun hold my mom hostage for your scam shield wayang show. Just becos I dun see the efficiency in it!

I can ONLY conclude 2 outcomes without more details and in context.
One either the scan protection is bloody effective.
Or Sheegapore is such a popular target 🎯 everyone malfeasant jumps in the scam bandwagon to smell Sheegapore.

180 million scam call

80000 block by Scamshield

What is Scamshield ?

Too many piggy , piglets

Very familiar

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