Avoid being labelled a 'scam', register your Singapore business at SSIR

Not doing so could see your SMSes being labelled as "likely scam" and head straight to users' spam folders

A composite picture of a mobile phone with a fake phishing sms, and a screenshot of an SMS thread with
Starting from 31 January 2023, SMS messages sent by organisations not registered with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) registry will be labelled as "likely scams". (Photo: Getty Images/Yahoo Singapore)

SINGAPORE — On 25 January, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced that all organisations using alphanumeric sender IDs (SMS sender IDs) must register with the Singapore SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR) to have their IDs visible to Singapore mobile number users.

Organisations that do not do so will have their SMS messages be labelled as "likely scams" to users, starting from 31 January.

IMDA has stated that this registration is to better protect consumers against "non-registered SMS that may be scams".

With scams being rampantly surfacing in recent years, and a lot of victims unknowingly falling into the trap of phishing scams, this is a great initiative by IMDA to help safeguard Singaporeans and their online safety.

However, this introduces a few new problems for businesses and also for SMS receivers.

SMSes go straight to 'spam' or 'malicious' folders

For SMS receivers, any kind of SMS you receive from businesses not registered under SSIR will be immediately labeled as "Likely-SCAM" on your mobile phone.

It could come from various different SMS sources, but it will still be grouped up into the same SMS chat thread.

This introduces some confusion among users, especially if you receive SMSes from legitimate sources that have not registered with SSIR. For example, One Time Password (OTP) requests, parcel tracking services, and also reward links will all be bunched up under the same "Likely-SCAM" thread.

A screenshot of various SMS messages in a single message thread named
These five SMS messages came from three different companies, all in the "Likely-SCAM" thread. (Screenshot: Yahoo Singapore)

This makes it tough to identify which sources are legitimate and which ones are not, especially if it is sent without a company name as an identifier in these messages.

More likely than not, this SMS thread will be automatically sent to your phone's personal spam folder and will not even show up on your notifications.

For example, the Google Pixel and Apple line of phones have a self-filtering system in place that will place all scam-suspected SMSes into a "spam" or "malicious" folder, and sometimes will automatically do so without informing the user.

The "Likely-SCAM" thread is highly likely to be filtered into these folders, as it happened to my own personal mobile phone when I received these messages.

For business owners that have not registered with SSIR, disruption of services may be the biggest problem they will face.

A screenshot of SMS messages in a single message thread.
Tracking orders from unregistered companies can be a pain if it is sent to your 'spam' folder. (Screenshot: Yahoo Singapore)

When this measure came into effect last month, for some reason, Amazon wasn't registered yet (they are now though). I was constantly requesting for my login OTP to be sent to me so that I can purchase an item, only to find out much later that it got sent to my "spam" folder numerous times without any notification.

This resulted with me heading to other online retailers to purchase what I needed, instead of using Amazon.

I was also personally awaiting a parcel delivery SMS for something that I bought, which also was sent as "Likely-SCAM", but I have been wise enough to check my "spam" folder occasionally now, so I managed to be at home just in time to receive the delivery.

A screenshot of an SMS messages in a scam message thread.
Tell us this doesn't look like an actual scam or phishing SMS (it isn't, but you get the point). (Screenshot: Yahoo Singapore)

Confusion if businesses do not register under SSIR

As a business owner, if you have been relying on SMSes as a means to contact your customers or user base for any reason, a lot of these problems will be surface sooner or later if you do not register under SSIR.

This may lead to a confused customer base, or even loss of revenue due to missed messages.

The worst case scenario, some may even think that the company is a "scam", just because it is coming from a source that is labelled "Likely-SCAM".

Registration with the SSIR can be done by contacting smsregistry@sgnic.sg or the Singapore Network Information Centre.

Companies will need to pay a one-time $500 set-up fee, and $200 annually per registered sender ID.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy watercooling his computer parts, he does some pro wrestling.

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