The Philippines – home to the fifth "most engaged social networking audience" and the sixth largest Facebook population in the world — is also one of the many countries without a law to protect its netizens from online identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your
personal information without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
That is how the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas described identity theft, warning
the public regarding online financial transactions as early as July
To date, the Philippines has no law that penalizes people guilty of identity theft. Most reports of identity theft in the country happen not only in social networking sites, but in banking sites as well.
GMA News reporter Julius Segovia said on Jessica Soho’s “State of the Nation" that ten Filipinos daily fall victim to identity theft, especially in the National Capital Region.
Victims of identity theft
Twenty-one year old model, entrepreneur, and blogger Kryz Uy was one of the many victims of identity theft. An anonymous user set-up a fake Kryz Uy account to sell clothes, purportedly from her; up to P8,000 was stolen from one of Uy’s followers.
"Everyone thought that I was scamming these people so I had to clear my name. But then no matter how I tried to report it on Facebook, wala pa rin," said Uy. She went as far as reporting the incident to authorities, but to no avail.
In 2010, Gilbert Climaco, a program director and news anchor of the Radio Mindanao Network, was a victim of identity theft after a fake Facebook account under his name was used to extort money. Climaco, who back then did not yet have an account in any social networking site, said that the fake account "created a lot of mess in my life."
One bank depositor, who refused to reveal his identity, lost P87,000 when an unknown cyber-thief succeeded in transferring money from his account to an untraceable account. “Masama lang ang loob ko kasi walang magawa ang bangko," he said.
Anti-identity theft legislation
In 2008 alone in the United States, despite having several statutes in place to protect citizens from the crime, over 10 million people fell victim to credit card identity theft.
A law protecting internet users from internet-related forgery and fraud is now in the works in the Philippine Congress. If House Bill 4115 or the Data Privacy Act of 2011, is passed, it will "ensure that the personal information and communications system in the government and in the private sectors are secure and protected," according to the House of Representatives website. The bill is on its third and final reading.
While the bill is awaiting final approval from the House of Representatives, authorities urge Filipinos to be extra vigilant, especially when it comes to their automated teller machine transactions and even with their social networking site accounts.
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