Parliament Sitting on 26 July 2021

QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER


6. Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) whether the Ministry is able to do more to limit the number of +65 scam calls made to unsuspecting Singaporeans; and (b) whether the Ministry and local telcos can expand its scam awareness outreach efforts offline particularly to the elderly who have no knowledge of such apps.

Answer:

1. Mr Speaker, MCI and IMDA work closely with MHA in the Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams to strengthen our Whole-of-Government efforts to protect Singaporeans against scams. One key initiative which the Member cited is our effort to combat scam phone calls from overseas. The +65 prefix which we implemented with telcos in April last year helps to alert the public that these are calls coming from overseas, and that the public should not pick up such calls if they are not expecting anyone calling from overseas. This is part of our broader anti-scam efforts, including the expeditious blocking of known numbers used to perpetuate scams or those attempting to spoof the numbers of Government agencies. 

2. IMDA will continue to work with telcos on solutions that telcos can deploy within their networks to enhance their ability to detect and block suspected scam calls, while ensuring that genuine calls continue to be efficiently connected. 

3. The technological solutions that we implement need to be complemented by measures to heighten the awareness and vigilance of the public. In this spirit, IMDA teaches seniors cyber safety tips such as how to identify spoofed scam calls via its Seniors Go Digital programme. The Government has also partnered key stakeholders like the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), banks and telcos to disseminate anti-scam messages. These efforts take place online and also offline, in order to reach out to a wider audience, including vulnerable segments in our society. 

4. For instance, the Police work with Residents’ Committees and grassroots volunteers to spread scam alerts to residents, including senior citizens, via WhatsApp and community events like block parties, roadshows, festive events and Community Safety & Security Programmes. The NCPC’s crime prevention ambassadors also reach out to seniors to share crime prevention tips at various community events. 

5. A vigilant public remains critical in our defence against scams. We urge members of the public to join in the fight against scams by looking out for family members and for one another.