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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Global Pinoys:Beware of Scams and Spam Texts in the Philippines


Beware of Scams and Spams
Most Notorious:
SPAM:  It has come to our attention that Metro Manilans are being harassed by constant text barrages and calls from individuals who are soliciting  business for Caritas Health Shield.
Beware! 
"CARITAS HEALTH SHIELD INC. (HMO) COMPANY. The no. 1 HEALTH CARD PROVIDER. 2012. Advisory: We are glad to inform you that you are one of our selected recipients, entitled to have a FAMILY MEDICAL PRIVILEGE CARD & Gift Certificate worth of P6,800 for Derma and Dental Services, ABSOLUTELY FREE!!! and NO CASH OUT! " SPAM Texter
Caritas Health Shield
n an attempt the cut down the huge number of unsolicited text messages being sent to mobile phone subscribers, Globe Telecom has filed before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) what is believed to be the first case against text spamming in the country.
In a statement, the Ayala-owned mobile operator said the filing of the complaint against notorious text spammer Caritas Shield is part of its crackdown on companies involved in sending unsolicited text advertisements.
Globe has asked the NTC to order Caritas Shield the payment of the appropriate fines and penalties for sending text spam to Globe subscribers. Globe also asked the NTC to permanently bar Caritas, its agents and employees from sending these spam texts to Globe customers.
Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said other companies whose agents employ marketing strategies that involve sending text spams will be dealt with similarly.
In the complaint filed against Caritas with the NTC, Globe said Caritas should be immediately stopped from sending text spams and asked that a cease and desist order be issued by the regulatory body against Caritas.
As a prepaid subscriber of Globe, Caritas has violated the terms and conditions specified in the User’s Guide set by the telecommunications company for its prepaid SIMs, according to the mobile operator.
Specifically, the User’s Guide stipulates that subscribers should “not use the prepaid service, handset, SIM cards, call & text card for any fraudulent or abusive purpose.”
Caritas has been sending spam text messages to Globe and TM subscribers, soliciting and enticing them to avail of its health care and insurance products.
Text spams coming from Caritas have adversely affected the reputation of the company against its customers and caused “massive irritation” to Globe subscribers, resulting in numerous complaints with its customer service department.
One text spam from Caritas reads as follows: “Caritas Health Shied Inc. offers a pre-approved comprehensive health card with money-back guarantee. If you’re interested, please reply with your name, age and address. Our health consultant will assist you shortly.”
Many subscribers complain of getting an average of 5 to 10 text spams a day. Spam messages are usually sent by prepaid numbers as they are untraceable and are easily disposable.
Spammers also don’t need specific numbers to send spam messages to as they make use of USB GSM modems and they spam number ranges. Legitimate text blasts approved by the regulating agency are properly identified and do not carry 11-digit numbers.
“The clamor of customers to combat spam messages has become a matter of public interest so the NTC should use all its disciplinary powers against spammers like Caritas,” Globe stressed in the complaint.
The crackdown versus companies involved in text spams follows an information drive launched by Globe in January this year aimed at educating subscribers on how to deal with irritating text spams.
The information drive resulted in a surge of mobile numbers deactivated from Globe service in the first four months of the year. As of April this year, Globe said it barred from its network a total of 384 mobile numbers. This number is 11-percent higher than the total number of mobile numbers blocked from the network for the whole of 2013.
“We expect this number to increase further as Globe continues to step up its drive versus annoying and bothersome text spams. We would like to assure our subscribers that the company will continue to amplify our campaign until we have substantially reduced, if not eliminated, this problem,” Castelo said.
The telecommunications provider has put in place several channels through which subscribers can report text spams. Subscribers may report via the Globe website through Talk2Globe Chat; send a message through Globe Contact Form and by tweeting @Talk2GLOBE on Twitter.
Subscribers can put in the number, the exact message, and the time and date the text spam was received. Numbers that are reported to be source of text spams are first sent warnings and those that are persistent source of text spams are deactivated from the service.
Customers can also keep themselves from getting text spams through their own devices.
iOS users may block unwanted numbers by opening the message, clicking the Contact button at the right hand corner, clicking the “i” next to the number they wish to block. They can then scroll down to the bottom of the page where they will see the option “Block this caller” and then click to confirm.
For Android users, subscribers may block spam through their gadget’s filtering settings: Go to Settings, press the Spam Message Settings, click “Add to Spam Numbers” and add spammers’ numbers. They may also choose to actively block by inputting commonly used spam phrases and adding it to the “Add to Spam Phrases” list. From Newsbytes.ph
SCAM:Domingo&Molaer, “False representation or deceptive means to collect any debt or obtain information concerning a cardholder.” 
Domingo& Molaer
“False representation or deceptive means to collect any debt or obtain information concerning a cardholder.” 
Unfair Collection Practices. Banks, subsidiary/affiliate credit card companies, collection agencies, counsels and other agents may resort to all reasonable and legally permissible means to collect amounts due them under the credit card agreement: Provided, That in the exercise of their rights and performance of duties, they must observe good faith and reasonable conduct and refrain from engaging in unscrupulous or untoward acts.  Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this Subsection:  a)    the use or threat of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person;  b)   the use of obscenities, insults, or profane language which amount to a criminal act or offense under applicable laws;  c)   disclosure of the names of credit cardholders who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except as allowed under Subsec. X320.9 and 4301N.9;  d)   threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken;  e)   communicating or threat to communicate to any person credit information which is known to be false, including failure to communicate that a debt is being disputed;  f)    any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a cardholder; and  g)   making contact at unreasonable/inconvenient times or hours which shall be defined as contact before 6:00 A.M. or after 10:00 P.M., unless the account is past due for more than sixty (60) days or the cardholder has given express permission or said times are the only reasonable or convenient  opportunities for contact.  
Important Note To Complainants!  Complainants should send email to BSP:  consumeraffairs@bsp.gov.ph
BSP requires the following:
1.   The full name of the complainant  and the financial institution (FI) being complained of:
2.   The signatory to the complaint should be the transactor or his/her authorized agent.
3.  Contact information and address of the complainant .
4.   Copies of relevant documents that support the complaint. 
5. The facts of the harassment case. 
Tips for Dealing with a Debt Collector
1. Know how the collection process works. Why are you being contacted by a collection agency? It usually means that a creditor has not received payment from you for several months. They have negotiated with another company or are using an in-house affiliate called a debt collector to attempt to get you to pay. Third party collectors often purchase your debt for less than you owe, and your debt is now owned by the collector. A collector may also work for the creditor in return for a fee or a percentage of any money collected. In-house collectors that are affiliated with the original creditor work on behalf of the company directly. Because the creditor has taken a loss on your account or because you are late with making payments, this negative information may show up on your credit report.
Another reason a debt collector may be contacting you is that an imposter has used your identity to obtain credit, a crime known as identity theft. You are not responsible for the debt, but you may experience difficulties convincing the debt collector of this. Under federal law, the debt collector has certain responsibilities in investigating your situation and may be liable for failure to cooperate.
2. Know your rights. Learn to recognize abusive collection practices. Even if you owe a debt, a collector owes you fair treatment and respect for your privacy. Also, be aware that even if the collector's conduct does not exactly match the language of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, that collector may still be liable for its conduct.
3. Ask questions and learn specifics. Often the first contact with the debt collector is a telephone call from a representative, a pre-recorded message asking you to call a mysterious toll-free number, or a letter. When a collector calls or you call back, get as much information as possible. Ask for the name of the caller, the collection agency, the creditor, and the address and fax number for sending correspondence. Also ask about the amount the collector claims you owe. In this first call, you should also tell the caller you expect written follow-up if you have not yet received a notice in the mail.
4. Assert your right to privacy . If your first contact with a collector is by telephone, tell the caller that you want all future contact in writing rather than by phone. You can also instruct the collector not to call you at work or at all if that is your choice. Make notes of your first conversation and start to keep a file.  It is important to follow up on such requests in writing right away. Your letter should include requests about contact or other matters discussed in your first telephone contact. Note: If you notify the collector not to contact you at all, it is entitled to contact you one more time to explain how it intends to proceed.
Also you should tell and write the collector that you are the only person to be contacted. Since the agency is well aware of your location, there is no need to contact your employer, neighbors, relatives, or friends to find out where you are. If you are an employer, friend, neighbor, or family member who is being contacted by a collector, you can write the collector and tell it to stop contacting you.
5. Start and keep a file. At the first contact from a collection agency, start a file. Your file should include:
Dates and times of phone conversations, pre-recorded messages the collector leaves on your voice mail, and when you send or receive correspondence.
Notes of conversations along with the name of the collection agency employee.
Copies of correspondence you send, as well as those you receive including envelopes. Collectors are supposed to give you written notice of the collection action five days after you are contacted by phone.
Copies of messages that are abusive or overly intrusive.
There is no set time after which you will never be contacted again about a debt. Some debts are sold to other collectors even after being properly disputed. Keep all records regarding disputed debts indefinitely in case the debt comes back to haunt you, and you need to dispute it again.
6. Put it in writing. Send any correspondence, including disputes, to both the collection agency and the creditor by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. When in doubt, send a written confirmation of anything that you may need to prove later (for example, a promise or threat made, a rude or harassing comment received, or an explanation given you that may show improprieties in the handling of your dispute or your payments).government agencies, or collector associations about abusive practices.
7. Clarify payments. If you negotiate a repayment plan over the phone, ask the representative to send you the terms of the plan in writing. You may also write a letter that explains your understanding of the negotiated repayment plan. Payments made to a debt collector when multiple debts are involved should clearly specify to which debt the payment is to be applied. It is possible to dispute one debt, but agree to pay another. Also, any promise to remove or adjust reports in your credit history should be documented for later enforcement.
8. Pay the proper party. Payments should be made to the debt collector and not the original creditor unless you are expressly instructed to pay the creditor directly. In this case, you should confirm such instruction in writing to both the creditor and the debt collector.
9. Don't be coerced. Never pay a bill you don't owe just to get the collector to "go away." Any payment of the debt is considered an acknowledgement that you are responsible. Even if you pay, that will not erase a negative entry on your credit report.
10. Examine balances, interest charges, and other fees and charges. Carefully review the amount you are being asked to pay. You should ask the collector to tell you the amount of the original debt as well as give you a breakdown of any interest, fees, or charges that have been added. Federal law prevents a debt collector from charging you any more than the amount you actually owe, if not permitted by the laws of your state or the terms of the original agreement with the creditor. (15 USC § 1692(f))