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Beware of fixers and online scammers

The advent of technology has changed the way people use the Internet—from being a source of information to providing services at a person’s fingertips. Who would have thought that food, taxi, medicines, among other services, could be availed of anytime, anywhere just by using online facilities?

Today, with an easier access to the Internet, more people go online to avail themselves of information and services without having to leave the comforts of their homes or offices.

Unfortunately, some people abuse the Internet by committing fraud, stealing information, or spreading false or fake news.

The proliferation of fake news and online scams are no longer new to us, yet, many people still fall victims to these scammers.

The Social Security System is a natural target for scammers.  As an established brand, the use of its name would easily engage people, direct followers to an online site, or worse, exchange money for services. With 38 million covered members, SSS is hounded by online predators.

Last month, a post circulated on Facebook that President Duterte signed a law giving P50,000 bonus to all SSS members.  This is absolutely a hoax. Three hours from the time the post reached us, an online advisory was immediately released via SSSph, the official Facebook site of SSS, that this is fake news.

This is a kind of phishing where online scammers use SSS to increase their following and engagement in social media. This is a  reminder to our members to be cautious and discerning of the information they read and share on social media.

The SSS is already working with the Philippine National Police to investigate and take legal action against the culprits behind the fake posts. This is a strong warning to online scammers that they will be legally liable if they use the SSS to deceive its members and pensioners.

Aside from being victims to online scammers and fake news, SSS pensioners also fall prey to fixers. A few months ago, we received a report from our Bacolod branch that 15 pensioners transacted with a fixer, who took their cash cards after availing themselves of the  SSS’s Pension Loan Program (PLP).

Instead of getting the full credited amount from SSS, the poor pensioners only received a fraction from the fixer. The case is still under investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation. We launched PLP to help pensioners from borrowing money from loan sharks during financial contingencies. Sadly, though, some people still use this program to take advantage and get money from the poor pensioners.

There was also a recent incident in Bacolor, wherein a certain individual introduced himself as an employee of SSS, and solicited data and an authorization letter  from a woman in the guise of retrieving her SSS check. The concerned senior citizen reported this incident to their barangay official, who, in turn, reported it to SSS.

We strongly advise our members and pensioners to avoid online scammers, fixers and not believing in fake news. If they have questions, they can consult with SSS employees stationed at SSS branches nationwide.

Likewise, never give your personal data to people who are not employees of SSS, or to those who claim they can help you with your SSS transactions for a fee. Again, SSS does not charge any fee for its services, such as processing of benefit claims and loan applications.

Follow only the official communication channels of SSS—its Philippine Social Security System (SSSph) facebook site; the SSS web site—www.sss.gov.ph—and its official twitter account—@phlSSS.

For more information and queries on your SSS accounts, contact SSS Call Center at 1455 or e-mail us at member_relations@sss.gov.ph. Members may also access our electronic facilities, such as the My.SSS portal in the web site, SSS Mobile App and Text SSS.

In a world driven by technology, SSS services is also at your fingertips.  Just make sure that the online sites that you visit for SSS information are the official sites of the agency.

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Aurora C. Ignacio is SSS president and chief executive officer.

We welcome your questions and insights on the topics that we discuss. E-mail mediaaffairs@sss.gov.ph for topics that you might want us to discuss.

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