You can block scam calls & SMSes on your phone using this free app

Over 5,537 numbers have been blocked and 722,865 SMSes have been reported within six months of its launch.

Fiona Tan | May 30, 2021, 03:45 PM

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Tired of receiving scam SMSes and phone calls?

You can now download an app to prevent these scams, including loan, phishing and Chinese officials impersonation scams, from reaching your phones.

Launched in Nov. 20 last year, the ScamShield app identifies and filters out scam messages using artificial intelligence, sending such messages to the phone's junk folder instead.

It also blocks scam messages and calls from phone numbers that are used in other scam cases or reported by ScamShield users.

It was jointly developed by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the Open Government Products team at the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech).

Since its launch, over 5,537 numbers believed to be used in scams have been blocked.

A total of 722,865 SMSes have also been been reported, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and NCPC said in a news release on Saturday, May 29.

The free app, while only available on iOS devices, has been downloaded by more than 119,000 users, according to SPF and NCPC.

An Android compatible version is currently in the works.

Blocked calls, filtered SMSes and scams prevented

Upon installing ScamShield, users can enable call blocking and SMS filtering by tweaking their phone's settings.

Using artificial intelligence, ScamShield will then identify, filter out and prevent scam SMSes and phone calls from reaching potential scam victims.

Additionally, scam messages and numbers can also be reported in the app and entered into a database that is jointly managed by NCPC and the Singapore Police Force’s Anti-Scam Centre (ASC).

The information received from the public helps NCPC and ASC detect and verify

potential scams that are ongoing.

The authorities can then take proactive action by providing timely advisories to warn the public about the latest scam trends promptly.

ASC also reviews and takes preventive actions on the information received through ScamShield, such as initiating the process of blocking websites used for scams, and reaching out to telecommunication companies swiftly to initiate blocking, suspension or termination of the phone numbers linked to scams.

However, not all numbers submitted will get blocked.

About 10 to 15 per cent of the total reported SMSes and numbers were non-scam related reports, according to CNA.

S$201 million lost in 2020

A record high of 15,756 cases was reported last year, with more than $201 million lost by victims, according to The Straits Times.

This was a jump from 9,545 reported cases in 2019, where over S$120 million was lost.

Some of the most common scams were loan-related scams, such as sports and betting scams. These loan scams make up 30 to 40 per cent of the total message scams filtered by ScamShield, according to CNA.

Loan scam. Image from SPF and NCPC.

SPF and NCPC said that they also detected other scams, such as a bank-related scam and a phishing scam disguised as a job listing, in April 2021.

Phishing scam. Image from SPF and NCPC.

Bank scam. Image from SPF and NCPC.

ScamShield is currently limited to scam-related SMSes and calls, and doesn't apply to scams received on other platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram or various social media networking sites.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.

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Top image from ncpcsg/IG, SPF and NCPC