FSC seeks law to block scammers’ phone calls, texts

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 27, 2014 - 20:18
  • Updated : Jan 27, 2014 - 20:18
Policymakers are pushing for a law revision designed to protect mobile phone users from financial crimes such as “voice phishing” and “smishing.”

Voice phishing involves posing as financial company employees or other officials over the phone. Smishing is a variant of this that uses text messaging.

A huge number of consumers say they have fallen prey to such schemes, which primarily use deception to get people to transfer money into the criminals’ bank accounts.

The Financial Services Commission, in coordination with lawmakers and relevant ministries, said Monday that the government planned to seek a revision of the “law on prevention of telecommunication financial fraud” during the extraordinary session of the National Assembly next month.

“In the wake of the massive data leaks at three credit card firms, a group of government officials and lawmakers have reached a consensus on passing the revised motion as early as possible,” said an FSC official.

He predicted that the bill would pass through the February session. The official added that part of the revision would create a legal basis to block phone lines that are being used in voice phishing or smishing.

Up to 30 percent of messages being sent on the nation’s three major mobile carriers ― KT, SKT and LG Uplus ― are filtered out and blocked as spam.

Financial authorities are closely collaborating with police to strengthen the filtering system.

“A revised law will oblige mobile operators to block scammers’ phone lines, (when the numbers are) provided by investigative agencies,” said an official of the Financial Supervisory Service.

The government will also step up legal requirements for the registration of businesses that send mobile texts to thwart smishing.

Smishing has rapidly spread since it started in 2012, and around 30,000 cases have been reported as of the end of 2013.

Because phishing calls are made from abroad, mostly China, local authorities have faced difficulty in tracking down the groups running the scams and taking preventive measures.

Meanwhile, the government earlier announced that it had uncovered a group of hackers that stole a total of 461 authenticated certificates through “pharming,” in an apparent bid to withdraw cash from victims’ bank accounts.

Pharming involves redirecting a website’s traffic to a bogus site using viruses to steal the identification certificates from bank-owned computers.

By Kim Yon-se (