You are in the middle of a meeting and your phone’s SMS alert went off. It reads:

“Need a fast loan without minimum salary? We offer a number of different loans for those who need cash ASAP. Contact us now to find out how.”

Your first reaction might be,” huh?” is this a loan shark sms ? and went on to ignore it. After you start to get one of these messages at least once a week, and it starts to be annoying. What can you do about it without having to change your phone number?

While the Singapore government has taken steps to enhance personal data protection, we can’t say that there are no cracks in the system and that no one will receive any unsolicited marketing materials on their phones. What’s annoying is that unlike an email where you might have the choice to unsubscribe, an SMS or Whatsapp message will not allow this. Most of all, some of the numbers are overseas numbers or do not even appear at all.

There are a few methods to get around this problem, as well as ways to report these nuisance SMSes:

Step 1: Ensure you are registered to the Do Not Call Registry

The Do Not Call (DNC) Registry lets you opt out of marketing messages addressed to your Singapore telephone number, such as those which advertise a good or service.

The DNC regime under the PDPA prohibits organisations from sending such messages to Singapore telephone numbers, including mobile, fixed-line, residential and business numbers, registered with the registry.

However, organisations which have an ongoing relationship with a subscriber of a Singapore telephone number may send marketing messages on similar or related products, services and memberships to that Singapore telephone number via text without checking against the DNC Registry. For example, you might have given your personal mobile number to fill in a lucky draw coupon at a mall or filled in the registration form at a spa. Such relationships mean they are allowed to contact you.

But such messages must also contain an opt-out facility that you may use to opt out from receiving such telemarketing messages. If you opt out, organisations can no longer rely on the exemption and must stop sending such messages to your Singapore telephone number after 30 days.

You may register in any of the three DNC Registers, based on your preference:

  • No Voice Call Register;
  • No Text Message Register; and
  • No Fax Message Register.

 

Step 2: Do not reply to loan shark SMS

There is absolutely no need to reply to an unsolicited loan shark SMS, especially one relating to loans, financial assistance or online gambling as there is a high likelihood these are sent out from illegal moneylenders.

Step 3: Lodge a Report about loan shark sms

While most people may choose to ignore these SMSes, some unlucky individuals may receive them regularly. This is when you should take steps to notify the police by lodging a police report, calling the National Crime Prevention Council’s ‘X Ah Long’ Hotline at 1800-924-5664 (1800-X-AH-LONG); or providing information via I-Witness.

Step 4: Set up a Whitelist for your mobile phone

For iOS:

You can block contacts and phone numbers on your devices, as well as set up a whitelist for approved numbers on your iPhone. To set up a whitelist, simply put the contacts you want into favourite and switch on the Do not Disturb mode. The downside to this is that you might miss calls from certain organisations, such as banks or recruiters which are not spam but are not on your whitelist.

Remember to also email Apple for same by sending an email to imessage.spam@apple.com with this information:

  • A screenshot of the message
  • The email address or phone number that sent the iMessage.
  • The date and time that you got the iMessage.

For Android:

The default android messaging app offers a built-in spam filter. You can activate it by tapping and hold in the Text message of the sender you want to block, and you will see options to Archive, Delete, Notify and Block the person.

There are also a number of third-party apps which allow phone users to block out such spams. Most importantly, remember not to reply or interact with these SMSes and report them promptly! You can also block such number via your whatsapp messengers.