Seoul city gov’t warns residents about loan scamsThe Seoul Metropolitan Government yesterday issued a warning to citizens cautioning them to be wary of spam text messages that claim to offer cheap loans with low interest rates or assist in debt management.
The city government also sent messages warning of those scams to the subscribers of the Seoul office’s official website, and posted an alert on Facebook and Twitter.
Spam messages targeting cash-strapped and debt-ridden citizens have become more prevalent in recent months, it added.
Most of these scams dupe recipients by claiming to be from well-known financial institutions. The city said legitimate financial companies or banks are not allowed to send texts without the consumers’ consent.
The scammers claim to offer low interest loans even to those with low credit ratings. Some of the fraudsters bilked deposits that borrowers put forward in exchange for loans, while others charged higher interest rates than stated.
There was also one reported case in which scammers only stole private information, including targets’ bank account numbers and ID numbers.
The Korea Internet Security Agency (KISA) said it had found 20,000 spam messages in January and February, along with 4,800 cases of voice phishing scams, and noted that the majority of the texts were related to the promotion of cheap loans.
The city also added that spam texts, or SMS phishing, have become more sophisticated in tricking potential victims. Last month, for instance, after the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, a group of scammers sent out mass texts that read “Thank you, Kim Yu-na,” in an effort to dupe recipients into believing that the link offered material related to the figure skating star.
However, a click of the link automatically resulted in the theft of their personal data.
The city government issued a warning at that time as well.
“We’ll keep watching and monitoring to ensure citizens are protected from such scams,” said Jeong Gwang-hyeon of the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
“Since there are many people who have a significant amount of debt, it seems that scammers are targeting those people.”
The city office encourages citizens to report cases to relevant hotlines, such as KISA’s 118 and the 120 Dasan Call Center.
They can also visit the website economy.seoul.go.kr/tearstop.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [email@example.com]
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