August 12, 2011

There is no rest for private detectives in the Philippines these days, along with internet scams and frauds perpetrated on the island nation, there is now a new threat for mobile phone users and foreigners visiting the country. Philippines private detectives are working together with the local police and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) services in the Philippines and Singapore to locate people that have been reported as missing by family members, friends or co workers. The NBI has seen the rise of kidnapping from five cases last year to up to 25 cases reported so far this year in 2011, whose main motive has been to extort the victims and their families with large sums of money. Detectives say the ransoms have been increasing, from $25,000 to $100,000 USD to recover the victim. Foreigners and wealthy citizens are at increased risk in the Philippines.

Private investigators and law enforcement say that, in many cases, victims are people that use social networks to connect with strangers, in which Facebook and Friendster plays a leading role. Investigators say it’s critical not to post sensitive information or personal data online such as date of birth and address. This is a golden invitation to have your identity stolen, or in the case of the Philippines, kidnapping. William Carter, Director of investigations at Philippine PI™, one of the most reputable private investigation firms in Southeast Asia, explains “Facebook users need to understand that adding personal information in your profile can be a high risk for you and your family, since social networks are now being targeting by criminals and scammers.”

Privacy settings in Facebook are tricky, as sometimes the company adds new information about their users without telling them, putting their network of friends at risk. Although social networking sites do provide some basic safeguards, there simply isn’t any way to effectively screen all users. Professional Philippines private investigators say when you post information online, you should assume your worst nightmare or enemy can see it. This is a good practice to keep your guard up and be sure your personal data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Criminals can find ways to access your information that you store online. Because social networking sites often allow your “friends” to view that personal information, such websites are especially high risk. A kidnapper can find out when you’re home, who you live with, what your address and date of birth is, what your financial situation is, what your house looks like, and your full name, date of birth, email address and phone number all through your social profile. And, that means you should be very, very careful about who you accept as a friend. Experts say it’s best to discuss private matters in person, and realize the internet is not a private platform.  No site is 100% secure.

As the Philippines continues to struggle with high crime rates and an underfunded law enforcement network, crime and kidnapping will continue. By publishing on your social networking profile that you’re in the Philippines, and have money, you’re asking for serious trouble. Don’t run the risk. Keep your personal information offline and stay safe.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2011 S. Birch

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