ScamShield helps protect the vulnerable against scam calls and messages

The ScamShield app leverages police database to block pesky scammers

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Fraudsters don’t care if they have to do something a thousand times to get one success, and that’s the genius of it. And it can happen even to the best of us; you could be distracted for a split second and click an offending button by accident – and that is all it takes to get phished and turn into a statistic.

Likewise, you could say the same for scam messages and calls so any extra help would be great, especially for those who are particularly vulnerable, like the elderly. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) have collaborated with Open Government Products team (OGP) from Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GOVTech) and developed a mobile app called ScamShield.

While ScamShield won’t be able to protect your loved ones from everything, it covers quite a bit of ground by forcing scammers to raise their game – and hopefully at a rate where they cannot keep up.

Essentially, ScamShield represents a two-pronged way to grow its telephone number database of known scammers, which in turn is used by the app to block scammers from reaching its users. It’s another way to improve the growth rate of the database as well on top of the usual methods of reporting a number.

Apart from an in-app feature of reporting a number, ScamShield also has a second layer of protection offered by AI, which scans your messages to identify keywords often associated with scams. The app diverts the offending SMSes to a junk folder, where you can check periodically to make sure that it did not trash legitimate SMSes; it just means that your friends have a scammy vibe, sorry.

For now, the app is only available on iOS, with an Android version in the works. Part of it is down to extra assurance offered by how iOS handles privacy, as explained by the ScamShield FAQ. iOS has strict privacy rules on what ScamShield can or cannot read, and therefore, iOS will not pass SMSes from known contacts to the app (unless you have already interacted with a previously unknown person). In short, ScamShield will not have access to location data or personal data, only SMSes sent by unknown persons.

Inevitably, some people will still question the fact that the app scans your messages, but there is no pleasing everyone. But the bottom line is that this app was designed to aid those who need the extra help.