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IMDA proposes mandatory registration for organisations that use SMS sender IDs

IMDA proposes mandatory registration for organisations that use SMS sender IDs

A stock photo of a man using a smartphone. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: Merchants and organisations that use SMS sender IDs may soon be required to join the SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR) under a new proposal by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The proposal is part of ongoing efforts by the authorities to fight scams and “further safeguard SMS as a communications channel”, IMDA said in a news release on Monday (Aug 15).

IMDA has been working with the Singapore Police Force, Government agencies and private sector partners on this front.

Under the proposal, registration would be required from the end of this year, following a transition period that starts in October.

“To build stronger scam prevention capabilities, we intend to make SSIR registration a requirement for organisations that use sender IDs,” IMDA said.

“Therefore, only registered sender IDs will be allowed. All other non-registered sender IDs will be blocked as a default. This further safeguards SMS as a communication channel.”

The registry was first piloted in August 2021, and IMDA set up the SSIR in March this year in response to a surge in SMS-related scams.

Since then, SMSes that spoof or make use of IDs registered in the SSIR have been blocked upfront.

“Since its launch, over 120 public and private sector organisations have joined the SSIR,” IMDA said.

“Compared to the three months before, the number of SMS scam cases reported has since declined threefold since the SSIR’s launch.”

Registration is currently voluntary, which means that the public may still receive spoofed text messages from sender IDs that are not logged in the registry.

If the proposal goes ahead, merchants and organisations that use SMS sender IDs will be required to register with the SSIR using their Unique Identity Numbers (UENs).

Aggregators who intend to handle text messages with sender IDs must also participate in the SSIR and verify merchant and organisation sign-ups through their UENs, IMDA said.

In addition to this, IMDA has also been working with mobile network operators on the possible deployment of anti-scam SMS filtering solutions within their networks.

“Technology has made it possible to identify and filter potential scam messages, upstream within the telecoms network, using machine reading technology,” IMDA said.

“As a start, the proposed solutions can detect malicious links within the SMS that lead to scam websites; and telcos can then develop solutions to identify patterns of suspicious scam messages and filter them accordingly.”

IMDA is currently seeking feedback on the proposed measures from members of the public. Feedback can be submitted via the IMDA website until noon on Sep 9.

Beyond these measures, IMDA is also looking into giving consumers the option to block international calls and SMSes.

IMDA reminded members of the public to remain vigilant even as they receive greater protection from scams.

“Scammers will continue to change their methods and tactics to deceive the public,” the authority said.

“Additional measures to safeguard the telecoms channels by (themselves are) insufficient.

“The best defence is a discerning public, where all consumers are individually alert and raise collective awareness by sharing scam prevention tips with friends and family.”

IMDA also recommended that members of the public download the Scamshield app, which helps to filter out scam messages and block scam calls.

Source: CNA/kg(zl)

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