Scam calls are a growing nuisance in Singapore. But did you know there are effective ways to report them and help take scammers off the streets?
In this guide, we’ll break down the different scam call types, how to identify them, and the proper steps to file an official report. By learning this information, you can protect yourself and others from falling victim.
Scam calls come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one goal – to con unsuspecting victims out of their hard-earned money or sensitive personal details. As scammers get more sophisticated with their tactics, staying vigilant is key.
Let’s start by understanding the technical definitions behind common scam call strategies so you know what to look out for.
How Scam Calls Work in Singapore
Phone Number Spoofing – Scammers manipulate their caller ID to disguise where a call is actually coming from. This is known as “caller ID spoofing” and makes it seem like the call is from a local number when it’s not.
Spoofing works by altering the calling line identification (CLI) field in the SIP INVITE message to mask the actual point of origin.
Vishing – Short for “voice phishing,” vishing scams try to steal identity details like credit card numbers or online account credentials over the phone.
Scammers pose as representatives from banks, government agencies, tech support – anyone who might reasonably ask for sensitive data. They leverage social engineering to trick victims into willingly divulging this info.
Robocalls – Using an autodialer, scammers can pump out thousands of recorded calls per hour to maximize potential victims.
Robocalls are illegal unless you have the recipient’s express prior consent. Common robocall scams pitch fake government grants, low interest loans, IRS/tax issues to instill a sense of urgency.
Smishing – Closely related to phishing scams that come via email or text, smishing aims to steal info through SMS messages that trick recipients into calling a number and divulging private details to “claimed authorities.” Scammers hope you’ll call back so their vishing ploys can commence.
Now that you understand the technical workings, here are some common signs that a call may be fraudulent in nature:
- Unknown/Unrecognized phone number, especially if international
- Demand for sensitive info like credit cards, online logins, bank details
- Claims of a problem with your bank account, tax refund, or legal issues
- Pressure tactics to act fast before “facing penalties” or other consequences
- Poor English with grammatical errors in any recorded messages
- Requests to pay by digital wallet services, gift cards or cryptocurrency
If a call triggers any of those red flags, stay calm and hang up. Never engage with scammers by answering questions or following their instructions. Let’s move on to the proper reporting process.
How to Report Scam Calls to Authorities in Singapore
When it comes to protecting yourself and others, reporting scam calls is crucial. Here are the official avenues for filing complaints in Singapore:
1. Use the ScamShield App
Developed by Singapore Police Force, this app automatically filters suspected scam text messages and call numbers. It also allows users to conveniently report scam calls and messages through a simple interface.
ScamShield has blocked over 85,000 numbers associated with scams to date.
2. Call the anti-scam helpline
Operated by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), your one-stop hotline for scam related queries is 1800-722-6688. Officers can advise on scam trends, verify if a call seems legitimate, or log your report into the system if you’ve been targeted.
3. Submit an online report
For non-emergency scam reports, fill out the electronic police report (e-Report) at https://police.gov.sg/e-services/police-e-report. Provide as much identifying information as possible like the phone number displayed, date/time of call, description of solicitation.
You can also submit reports via the “iwitness” section of the Singapore Police Force website or through the “Police@SG” mobile app. Every detail, no matter how small, could help authorities track down and prosecute scammers.
4. File in-person at a police station
For those who prefer submitting reports face-to-face, stop by any neighborhood police center during operating hours.
Officers can log your complaint and collect necessary evidence to investigate the case further. This is best for time-sensitive scams where funds may still be recoverable.
The authorities take scam reports extremely seriously. Promptly contacting them secures the highest chance of a positive outcome such as number blocking, funds retrieval or arresting criminal syndicates masterminding the operations.
Your active participation is invaluable to curb this costly social menace.
Additional Steps to Foil Scammers
While reporting is critical, there are proactive steps to avoid trouble in the first place:
✔️ Never disclose private info like ID numbers, passwords or financial details over unsolicited calls
✔️ Be wary of callback numbers provided by mysterious callers. Confirm legitimacy through official sources
✔️ Enable call filtering on your device and set custom filters for unknown callers
✔️ Sign up for the Do Not Call registry to opt out of most telemarketing
✔️ Educate elderly family/friends about scam modus operandi to look out for
✔️ Check https://www.scamalert.sg for the latest scam alerts and advisories
You can also contact your phone provider to inquire about number blocking options. Carriers like Singtel, StarHub and M1 actively work with authorities to cutoff lines identified as originating scam calls.
Those were the key ways to properly report scam calls in Singapore. Protecting personal data requires diligence as crooks evolve tactics.
Staying informed equips you to spot irregularities and seek help promptly via the right authorities. Together, an aware community makes it harder for scammers to succeed.
Case Studies: Examples of Real Scam Calls Reported in Singapore
Hearing about actual scam call reports helps illustrate the types of hoaxes circulated locally. The following summarize incidents that concerned citizens have lodged to authorities:
A senior received a Mandarin call from “SPF” purporting a warrant was out for his arrest due to an unpaid fine. Panicked, he withdrew $5,000 from his account and met the scammers in person before realizing it was a ruse.
A woman got an SMS with a callback number, claiming to be from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) regarding an outstanding tax refund. During the call, the “officer” demanded remote access to help unfreeze the amount. She hung up just in time.
Several people reported calls supposedly from banks like DBS and UOB, alleging fraud alerts on their cards were triggered. Scammers then coaxed victims into revealing sensitive login PINs and OTPs for “verification”.
A teenager accepted a WhatsApp call from an unknown foreign number. The caller pretended to represent a tech support firm and convinced him to install fraudulent malware that enabled remote account takeover of his devices.
An elderly man was informed over a spoofed government hotline number that his NRIC details were used in a drug case. Threatening arrest, scammers hustled him to transfer money for “bail” before the matter would be closed.
As you can see, scammers adapt stories to persuade all age groups and backgrounds. That’s why reporting is critical – it arms the authorities with real situations to monitor for patterns and get ahead of criminal plans. Let’s learn more about fighting scams through some frequently asked questions.
FAQs About Reporting Scam Calls in Singapore
Q: What happens after I file a scam call report?
A: The police will investigate your case, potentially tracing call origins or following up contact made with victims.
If the number is conclusively linked to criminal activity, it may be flagged in databases like ScamShield to automatically block future calls. Syndicate members could face prosecution depending on severity and evidence gathered.
Q: How effective is number blocking at stopping scams?
A: While blocking helps cover traces, it’s not a permanent solution since phone numbers are easily disposable. Most criminal rings operate across borders too.
But every report aids in stitching together bigger intelligence pictures over time. Cross-border cooperation also helps take down transnational rackets at their roots.
Q: What if I’ve already lost money to scammers?
A: Unfortunately funds transferred cannot be retrieved in most cases. However, do not feel ashamed – even savvy people fall prey sometimes given scammers’ deception skills.
Reporting allows police analysis that could intercept ongoing transactions if the timing is right. It also warns others and leads to arrests preventing future victims. Your courage helps more than you realize.
Q: What about scam text messages?
A: The ScamShield app automatically detects and blocks suspicious SMS too. You can also forward scam texts – with full message context – to the ScamShield WhatsApp bot at +65 8663 3000 for analysis. Never click links or divulge details in possibly malicious texts until confirmed safe.
Q: How can I stay protected going forward?
A: Keep yourself updated on the latest tricks by periodically checking https://www.scamalert.sg. Strengthen online security by using strong, unique passwords.
Enable two-factor authentication where possible. Be skeptical of unsolicited communications and avoid making hasty decisions under pressure or threats. Education is key to an empowered community.