Scam calls and texts are blocked starting today

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Scam calls and texts are blocked starting today

Scam calls and text messages should be reduced starting today as finance authorities, state agencies and banks start a system that blocks con artists from reaching people in advance.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA), 15 local banks and app developer WhoWho&Company have come together to implement a system that filters out suspicious numbers. WhoWho is a subsidiary of mobile carrier KT that provides security solutions that filter unknown numbers.

“Loan scams and voice phishing have drastically increased in recent years with advanced methods [being used], and the fact that they usually target financially isolated people is making things more serious,” said FSS Chairman Yoon Suk-heon on Tuesday at a contract signing ceremony.

“This system will be able to prevent scams, and in the long term we are going to implement an artificial intelligence algorithm to develop the system further.”

KISA collaborated with local banks to come up with a list of 180,000 genuine numbers used by banks when sending out text messages and making marketing calls. The agency also has a list of numbers reported by customers as scammers.

According to KISA, a total of 750,000 reports were made in the first half of last year about text scams. The number has been increasing continuously. In the first half of 2018, a total of 450,000 reports were made followed by 590,000 reports in the latter half.

With the new system, if a recipient is about to receive a text message registered as scam number, KISA will block it in advance. If the number is not registered as a scammer’s number, that’s when WhoWho takes over.

The WhoWho app identifies whether a number is officially registered with the bank and lets it through.

KISA did a test run of the system for three months last year with 70,000 numbers from four banks.

“A total of 1,371 phone numbers were eventually blocked,” an official from the FSS said. “Considering numerous text messages were sent from individual numbers, the number of messages we blocked was much more. A full operation of the system is expected to block some 36 million messages in one year, which is 3 million per month.”

The authorities also asked consumers to actively report phone numbers of scammers. In LG U+ and KT mobile devices, customers can easily report a number by pressing on the text message for more than 2 seconds and clicking on the “report as spam” button. The reported number is sent to KISA.

“We look forward to expanding the authorized numbers from first-tier to second-tier lenders,” said the FSS official.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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