S'pore to have Scam Public Education Office, best defence against scams is 'vigilant & discerning public': Sun Xueling

The best way to fight against scams is to educate ourselves.

Keyla Supharta | February 27, 2023, 06:27 PM

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be launching a Scam Public Education Office (SPEO) later this year, said Sun Xueling, Minister of State for MHA.

Sun, who is also Minister of State in the Ministry of Social and Family Development, was speaking at the MHA Committee of Supply (COS) debates in Parliament on Feb. 27.

More Singaporeans are falling victim to scams

There were 31,728 scam cases in 2022, a 32.6 per cent increase from 2021.

The total amount of money lost to scams in 2022 was over S$660 million, 4.5 per cent higher than in 2021.

Working to combat scams

Sun said the government has a "multi-layered defence strategy" against scams, and outlined these elements:

  • Blocking scam calls, SMSes, online listings and website
  • Securing government services and banking channels
  • Strengthening enforcement capabilities to respond quickly to scam cases
  • Strengthening laws

Sun said the Home Team has partnerships across government, and private and people sectors in support of these efforts.

One of the initiatives highlighted by Sun was the flagging of SMSes sent by non-registered senders as "Likely-SCAM".

Best defence against scams is a vigilant and discerning public

However, the government's efforts are not enough to combat scams on their own.

MHA will be collaborating with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) on anti-scam content to educate the public.

SPEO will be working with private sector and community agencies to customise its anti-scam public education efforts for different population segments.

"The best defence against scams is a vigilant and discerning public," Sun said, adding:

"To defend ourselves and our loved ones, we need to move beyond awareness, to mobilise every citizen to take action against scams."

New national anti-scam campaign

The MHA also launched a new national anti-scam campaign with the tagline "I can ACT against scams" in January 2023.

ACT is an acronym for the three key actions that individuals can take to keep themselves safe from scams, Sun explained.

The three actions are:

  • A: Adding security features such as ScamShield on mobile devices and lowering banking transaction limits to reduce potential losses.
  • C: Checking with trusted others and organisations for signs of a scam,

    and checking our own emotions for signs of undue urgency, fear or greed.

  • T: Tell authorities, friends and family about scams.

"Everyone has a part to play to keep Singapore safe and secure," Sun said.

She concluded:

"While the Government will step up measures to protect us against scams, we need to remain alert and ready to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Beyond exercising individual responsibility, let’s also look out for and support others in our community, to strengthen our collective resilience. Together, we will be able to fight the war against scams."

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Top image via MCI/YouTube