New app aims to shield users from scam calls, messages

ScamShield checks incoming SMS messages and calls against a list of known scam numbers and filters them if there is a match. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM APPLE APP STORE

A new mobile app that filters scam calls and messages to prevent them from reaching cellphone users was launched yesterday 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 the Government Technology Agency's Open Government Products, also uses artificial intelligence to identify scam SMS messages by spotting key words commonly found in such messages.

"Only incoming SMSes from unknown contacts will go through ScamShield. (The app) will not scan SMSes 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 their mobile numbers either.

Users can report scam messages and calls through the app, and these 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 can be downloaded from the App Store.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline New app aims to shield users from scam calls, messages. Subscribe