New mobile app that blocks scam messages and calls launched

Published By The Straits Times on Nov 20, 2020, 7:00PM

A new mobile app that filters scam calls and messages to prevent them from reaching mobile phone users was launched on Friday (Nov 20) by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC).

Known as ScamShield, the app checks incoming SMS messages and calls against a list of known scam numbers and filters them if there is a match.

Scam SMS messages identified by the app are sent to the phone’s junk folder, while scam calls are automatically blocked without notifying the user.

The app, which was developed by NCPC and Open Government Products, also uses artificial intelligence to identify scam SMS messages by spotting keywords commonly found in such messages.

“Only incoming SMSs from unknown contacts will go through ScamShield. (The app) will not scan SMSs from known contacts,” said NCPC.

The council added that ScamShield does not have access to the user’s contact list, location or personal data. The app does not require users to register with their mobile numbers either.

Users can report scam messages and calls through the app, which will be added to the database and shared with the police.

Given the ease with which overseas numbers can be disguised to look like local calling numbers, NCPC cautioned that numbers that are not blocked by the ScamShield app could still be from scammers.

“Users should remain vigilant and adopt scam prevention strategies to avoid falling prey to scammers,” it said.

ScamShield is currently only available on iOS devices and it can be downloaded from the App Store.

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