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Singapore: The Benefits of Using Ad Blockers

Ad blockers, according to GovTech Singapore, are underutilised scam protectors, filtering out fake internet adverts that might be difficult to discern from real ones. Phishing, e-commerce, investment, social media impersonation, fake friend call, loans, online love, and fake gaming platform scams are all typical sorts of fraud. Many of these frauds involve scammers that impersonate legitimate companies or individuals.

Many of these scams can be avoided by using ad blockers. Ad blockers, as the name implies, prohibit advertisements from appearing while people are browsing the internet. As a result, many scams masquerading as normal advertisements will never appear on their screen.

For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States suggests ad-blocking internet browser extensions to defend against fraudulent online adverts that show within internet search results. These fake advertisements link to websites that are difficult to distinguish from real business websites.

Other advantages of ad blockers include faster web page load times and decreased data consumption because of not wasting bandwidth on ad loading. Some ad blockers can also safeguard the privacy of their users by hiding their IP addresses and encrypting their data.

The government is doing its part by launching ScamShield in 2020, an app that protects individuals from phone and text message scams. It accomplishes this by comparing calls from unknown numbers to a database maintained by the Singapore Police Force, barring calls from numbers that have been associated with the fraud.

SMSs from unknown numbers are similarly screened. However, the app uses an on-device algorithm to verify messages, filtering scam SMSes to the Junk folder for iOS and notifying users that they may have received a scam SMS for Android.

The app also allows users to report fraudulent calls and texts they receive, enhancing the police’s database and enhancing their effectiveness. ScamShield has blocked approximately 200,000 scam calls and identified approximately 3.5 million scam communications as of August 2022.

Significantly, for those who value their privacy, SpamShield does not collect any personal data from the user. And later in 2023, WhatsApp will unveil ScamShield Bot. Users will be able to transfer the text or screenshots of suspicious messages to the bot for verification.

At the end of the day, the greatest defence against fraudsters is a well-informed public that is vigilant. Thus, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) started the “I can ACT against scams” campaign earlier in 2023 to make people more aware of how important it is to stop scams. The campaign teaches people three things they can do, which make up the ACT acronym:

  • Add security tools like ScamShield and two-factor authentication;
  • Make sure that suspicious texts match up with official sources and that callers are really whom they say they are;
  • Report any interactions with fraud to the authorities and warn family and friends to be cautious.

The increasing reliance on online activities has brought about numerous benefits, including making life more convenient and providing endless entertainment options. However, it has also created opportunities for malicious individuals to engage in harmful activities such as cyberbullying, phishing, identity theft, and other forms of cybercrime.

With this, GovTech urged its users to alert their loved ones to the fraud, so that they, too, could take preventative measures and aid others who aren’t as tech-savvy.


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