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Singapore: IMDA Collaborates for Public Security

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The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has collaborated with the Telcos to enable subscribers to choose to block incoming calls from international numbers on their mobile phones as part of multi-layered security measures to shield the public from scams.

Every year, about 1.6 billion international calls are made to Singapore. These include calls from con artists, many of whom are based abroad. To counter the threat posed by international scam calls, the Telcos and IMDA have gradually implemented measures.

This includes blocking all international calls that show abnormally high frequency right away because these are probably automated scam calls. Further, all incoming international calls that were detected and blocked had their caller IDs forged with a +65 prefix to make them appear as though they were coming from Singapore.

Between January and September 2023, Singapore telcos blocked over 300 million scam calls. This means that approximately one out of every four incoming calls from foreign numbers are blocked during this time. The “+” prefix is applied to all lingering calls from international numbers to alert people to exercise caution when taking these calls.

Telcos are now offering subscribers the option to block such incoming calls on their mobile phones, providing an additional layer of protection for users who prefer not to receive calls from international numbers. This service has started on 5 January 2024.

All incoming calls from international numbers will be blocked if you choose to opt in. Calls made from Singaporean numbers, such as those made by Singaporeans who are on the go and want to call home, will continue to be received normally.

Depending on their requirements, subscribers can enable and disable the international number-blocking feature. For instance, a subscriber may choose to turn on international number blocking by default, but they can turn it off when they are travelling abroad and anticipate receiving calls from foreign numbers—for example, from their hotel or ground transportation.

The Telcos provide several channels via which customers can enable or disable the international number blocking feature, including call, SMS, and/or the Telcos app. To learn more about the scope of the service and how to sign up, mobile subscribers should get in touch with their respective Telcos.

In addition to the ability to prevent incoming calls from foreign numbers, IMDA is still collaborating with Telcos to expand the ability to prevent SMS messages from foreign numbers. On their mobile phones, subscribers will be able to block calls and SMS from foreign numbers by the middle of 2024.

These additional safeguards are a component of a continuous, multi-layered strategy to improve fraud protection. To systematically lower the amount of scam calls and SMS that reach communication networks, IMDA has been collaborating with the Telcos.

Scams require a collective social effort to combat, and the public needs to keep on the lookout. Since scammers’ methods are always changing, the public should continue to be cautious when answering calls and sending SMS messages.

According to IMDA, even as the agency continues to monitor and add more security, scammers will always adapt their strategies, so there is no 100% guaranteed protection. Hence, IMDA will keep collaborating with other parties involved in the fight against fraud. In this battle, a perceptive public is essential. By encouraging friends and family to share scam prevention advice, consumers can increase awareness both individually and collectively.


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