Singapore to Flag All A2P SMS from Unregistered Senders as ‘Likely Scam’

Singapore’s comms regulator, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IDMA), has announced that any A2P SMS message from a sender not included in the country’s registry will be labeled as “Likely-SCAM” on the handsets of recipients. Flagging of unregistered SMS texts begins on January 31. An example of how the label will be presented to phone users is shown above.

The Singapore SMS Sender ID Registry (“SSIR”) is based on concepts developed by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum and first implemented in the UK. The pilot of Singapore’s registry began in August 2021 and it became operational in March 2022. The assignment of Sender IDs began at the end of October. Over 2,600 unique SMS Sender IDs have now been issued to 1,200 organizations. The SSID registration requirement does not apply to P2P messages sent from conventional mobile phone numbers.

Singapore is more aggressively protecting phone users than other countries. Scam warnings will only be presented until the end of July, at which time all unregistered messages will be automatically blocked. IDMA stated that the use of SSIR has already significantly reduced the number of unwanted SMS messages.

Since the setting up of the SSIR in March 2022, there was a 64% reduction in scams through SMS from Q4 2021 to Q2 2022. Scam cases perpetrated via SMS made up around 8% of scam reports in Q2 2022, down from 10% in 2021.

Foreign businesses must also register with the Singaporean authorities to obtain an SMS Sender ID. A2P SMS messages must be sent using SMS aggregators that have been licensed by the IMDA.

Other countries are likely to follow the example of Singapore if they successfully reduce spam and scam SMS messages. Singapore is one of a group countries that has signed bilateral agreements to share intelligence about nuisance calls. These agreements have been driven by US efforts to prevent robocalls and to persuade other nations to implement STIR/SHAKEN with the hope it could reduce CLI spoofing. However, the technology behind STIR/SHAKEN is not suited to addressing nuisance SMS messages. The problem of spam and scam SMS messages has been rising up the regulatory agenda in various countries, suggesting that many will be keenly following the progress made in Singapore.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.