Why most people in Singapore don't report scam messages: Thinking they will not be victims, 'too busy'

Woman looking at her phone, person in hoodie posing as scammer, face not revealed, looking at laptop
Among the actions taken after receiving a scam message, 72 per cent said they just tend to block the senders. (Photos: Getty Images)

Of the more than half of Singapore residents who receive scam messages, more than two out of three do not report the incident, with most thinking that they will never fall victim to scammers.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of scam victims are also not more likely to report the scam to the authorities or the platform.

These were some of the findings of a study commissioned by messaging platform WhatsApp and conducted by global market research agency 2CV Singapore in September.

According to the study, which involved 500 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, 64 per cent of the respondents aged 18 and above do not report the scam messages to the Singapore Police Force, or to the messaging platform where they received the scam message.

Among the actions taken after receiving a scam message, 72 per cent said they just tend to block the senders.

Another common action taken by 71 per cent of the respondents was to just delete the messages, while 52 per cent tended to ignore the scam. Only 36 per cent report to the platform or authorities.

Why don't people report scams?

According to the findings released on Monday (21 November), those who do not report the scam messages cite lack of concern as their reason, because they think that they will never fall for the tactics of the scammers. Another common reason for not doing so was being “too busy”.

Meanwhile, some are not aware if there are in-app features to report the scam, while others are sceptical if these in-app features would be helpful for them or for others.

"It is important for the public to report scam messages directly to the platforms. By doing so, they are submitting relevant scam information that will be used to alert companies and government bodies to take early countermeasures against the scammers," Gerald Singham, chairman of the National Crime Prevention Council, said in a media release.

The survey has also found that among the most prominent scams identified were investment scams, with 53 per cent of the respondents saying they received such messages.

This was followed by phishing scams, received by 50 per cent of the respondents, while 48 per cent said they got job scams, and 45 per cent received delivery scams.

The Singapore Police Force advised the public earlier in 2022 to follow “crime prevention measures” if they happen to come across scam messages.

These include verifying the authenticity of the information with their banks, never transferring funds to bank accounts of someone you don’t know, never disclosing personal information — including credit and debit card details or OTP, and reporting fraudulent transactions as soon as possible.

The police also recently in November warned of a scam which tricked individuals into giving up their Instagram account details. These hacked Instagram accounts would sometimes later be used other types of scams, such as investment-related ones.

Members of the public who know of such scams are advised to contact the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news writer who focuses on politics, the economy, and democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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