MANILA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- A retired Filipino journalist has recently lost 240,000 pesos (roughly 4,226 U.S. dollars) to an online scammer, revealing that many people in the Philippines have still been grappling with rising phishing attacks.
The number of phishing attacks in the Philippines during the first half of 2022 already surpassed the number of attacks in 2021, Senator Mark Villar said on Monday, adding that over 1.8 million attacks were detected in that period compared to 1.34 million attacks in 2021.
The rising online scams that victimize Filipinos are highly concerning, Villar said during the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies public hearing.
By citing data from a cybersecurity solutions company, he said that financial phishing attempts in the Philippines from February to April 2022 were the highest in Southeast Asia.
Villar tackled three Senate resolutions, four Senate bills, and a House bill, collectively called the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA), to address the phishing issues.
Villar said the AFASA will deal with cases of online fraud and will provide a regulatory framework that penalizes scammers and entails safeguard measures to protect Filipinos and their financial accounts.
"Because of the lack of a regulatory framework that penalizes these scammers, there are, and there will be more victims in the foreseeable future," he warned.
Villar further emphasized that online fraud cases endanger the public's trust in financial institutions, adding that enacting the AFASA into law will strengthen the public's trust in banks and financial institutions would then be strengthened.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian echoed Villar's words, stressing the need to pass new measures to help deter internet fraudsters' schemes.
Gatchalian shared with the hearing his own experience that someone who pretended to be him successfully convinced his bank to change his personal information on their computers.
"In my mind, how come the banks have been fooled, and what are the remedies accorded to bank clients with the same experience?" Gatchalian said, adding his experience prompted him to launch a legal fight against phishing scams. ■