PH privacy commission warns public vs online fraud, scams amid COVID-19 scare

Robie de Guzman   •   March 24, 2020   •   467

MANILA, Philippines – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Tuesday warned the public against online scammers using the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) scare to exploit and steal money and personal information.

“A growing number of online fraudsters are exploiting the public fear surrounding COVID-19 pandemic, using the pandemic to lure people into clicking phishing emails and installing malwares capable of stealing personal data and money,” the NPC said in a statement.

“Our fear during a crisis can expose us to data privacy risks predisposing us to make hasty or ill-informed choices online, which fraudsters are taking advantage of,” it added.

In view of these heightened risks, the NPC appealed to the public to exercise caution online, especially when using online financial services and accessing health-related mobile applications.

“Be cautious with the sites you visit, enhance your privacy settings, and protect your personal data,” the agency said.

The NPC warned that now is the worst possible time to fall victim to online fraudsters as most of the people are accessing the internet to get news and make financial transactions.

“In this period of home quarantine, digital access becomes our main gateway not just for news but also to coordinate tasks with co-workers, make online financial transactions and most importantly, get in touch with loved ones,” it said.

“Indeed, now is the worst possible time to fall victim to online fraudsters. They can steal sensitive data, cause you financial and reputational damages, make your device unusable and cut you off from the outside world,” it added.

To avoid such scenarios, the privacy body urged the public to be vigilant and familiarize themselves with the warning signs.

It also encouraged everyone to practice the following tips to protect personal data in the time of COVID-19:

  • Do not give out your personal data in suspicious COVID-themed emails and messages.
  • Make trusted government and other legitimate websites your go-to source for the latest COVID information.
  • Ensure that the charity or crowdfunding campaign you plan to donate to is legitimate.
  • Be mindful of phishing baits from online scammers.

The NPC also advised the public to be skeptical when they receive messages urging or pressuring them to open a certain link or give out personal information including password and pin number.

“During this critical period, all our focus and efforts should go to the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We should avoid, at all costs, getting sidetracked by these digital pitfalls,” it said.

The commission urged the public to contact its complaints and investigation team through its email addresses at complaints@privacy.gov.ph and info@privacy.gov.ph if they feel that their personal data have been compromised.

Swiss graffiti artist pays tribute to frontline worker ‘super-heroes’

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020

Swiss artist David Perez alias “S.I.D.” paid tribute on Sunday (April 5), to the “everyday super-heroes” working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, by painting a giant portrait representing a cashier on Gland town’s walls.

“Today, I will especially pay tribute to cashiers. They are on the frontline with nurses and others. So, it is for our everyday super-heroes”, the 35 years-old graffiti artist told Reuters.

All the residents of the Swiss town of Gland, located between Lausanne and Geneva, who pass through this underground tunnel can also admire a portrait of a nurse that SID did two weeks ago.

A few meters away, there is now a cashier wearing a mask and scanning a bottle of liquid soap, which took the artist 5 hours to make.

“The symbolic is very strong and this is really beautiful”, said local resident Coline Bovet, who was on a walk with her husband and had the surprise to find SID at work.

The cashier was modelled by one of SID’s friends, 25 years old Manuela Perrone, who does not work at a supermarket but just wanted to pay tribute to workers in contact with the public and possible contamination.

On the bottle of soap that the cashier is holding, the artist wrote “thank you”.

SID said he plans to draw other giant portraits of workers in the coming weeks, such as construction workers or garbage collectors. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse)

PNP to implement 50-50 work scheme due to COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 6, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will implement a 50-50 work scheme among personnel who are based at the national headquarters in Camp Crame.

This is due to the rising number of PNP personnel who have become patients under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat.

The 50-50 work scheme would use 50 percent or the first batch of personnel to go on duty at the administrative office until April 19 while the second batch will go on duty from April 20 to May 3.

According to a memorandum issued on April 4, the heads of offices/units with essential functions shall determine the work scheme applicable to the personnel, as long as they should observe a 14-day self-quarantine/isolation as part of the PNP’s health protocol.

“Maaaring magpatupad sila ng kani-kanilang scheduling para hindi naman maapektuhan ang ating normal functions,” said PNP Spokesperson Bernard Banac.

Meanwhile, police personnel who are aged 45 years old and above will have to be pulled out from the checkpoint areas.

“Mas vulnerable sila sa COVID-19 (They are more vulnerable to COVID-19),” Banac said.

The PNP will also launch Admin Support to COVID-19 Task Force (ASCoTF) to ensure an organized and speedy logistics, response, and development of frontliners.

The PNP has already recorded 19 police personnel that tested positive for COVID-19 with two deaths.

The total number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) in the PNP has already reached more than 1,300. — AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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UK PM Johnson admitted to hospital as Britain enters third week of lockdown

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in hospital in London on Monday (April 6) suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus, but Downing Street said he remained in charge of the government.

Johnson, 55, had been isolating in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus last month, was taken to hospital on Sunday night because he still had a high temperature and his doctors felt he needed additional tests.

Meanwhile, Britain entered its third week in lockdown with authorities warning they will have to impose further restrictions on outdoor exercise if people continued to flout rules designed to curb transmission of the virus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “unbelievable” to see a small minority flouting the government’s advice to maintain social-distancing.

Hancock said if people did not follow the rules, which allow people to walk, run or cycle outdoors once a day but not sunbathe, he would have to ban exercise of all forms outside the home.

He said the timetable to ease restrictions – the lockdown exit strategy – could only be agreed once the spread of the coronavirus had been brought under control.

Other European countries such as Italy and France have imposed tougher restrictions on people leaving their homes. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Gerhard Mey, Ben Makori.)

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