Inside Singapore’s plan to tackle SMS fraud with a single sender ID

By Yogesh Hirdaramani

Singapore plans to authenticate government messages with a single sender ID initiative. GovInsider speaks to Open Government Products’ (OGP) Assistant Director of Policy, Hygin Fernandez, to learn more about how the initiative came to be.

All text messages from the Singapore government will now be sent via the standard sender ID, Image: Open Government Products.

People in Singapore get text messages from government agencies for many reasons, such as notices to fill out tax forms, updates on public housing applications, or reminders to attend medical appointments. On a yearly basis, the government sends out over 100 million text messages to residents.


But the rise of scams where malicious actors pretend to be government officials means that scammers can use such messages to trick people. Almost 900 government impersonation scams were reported in 2023 according to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), with at least SGD 13 million (USD 9.5 million) lost to scammers in December.


When it comes to text messages, this is soon set to change. From 1 July 2024, almost all text messages from the Singaporean government will be sent from a single sender SMS ID,, as part of an effort to increase trust in the authenticity of government messages.


GovInsider speaks to Open Government Products’ (OGP) Assistant Director of Policy, Hygin Fernandez, who shares about how this new initiative aims to reduce the rate of scams.

Tackling scams with a trusted ID


“Instead of getting SMSes from different sender IDs, from [different government agencies] IRAS, CPF, SAF, or MOH… all these will be standardised,” says Fernandez.


OGP, an experimental tech unit within GovTech Singapore, is responsible for the tech infrastructure. The team is using Postman, a government alert system which was developed during the Covid-19 pandemic to speed up government communications.

All text messages from the government will come with a line indicating which agency is sending the message. Image: Open Government Products.

The initiative aims to help citizens identify legitimate messages and increase their vigilance around messages sent from other IDs, Fernandez says. The team will be conducting follow-up surveys and focus group discussions to measure the success of the plan over time.


In his role, Fernandez supports policymaking efforts around combating scams and leads the strategy for OGP’s anti-scam products. This includes ScamShield, an app which uses algorithms to block potential scam calls and text messages.


As OGP operates in small product teams, he is deeply embedded in the technicalities of product development, Fernandez explains. This means that there is a faster feedback loop, which in turn informs how he approaches policymaking, he shares.


For this project, they worked closely with regulatory bodies, telecommunications companies, and SMS aggregators to rollout measures that will prevent the sender ID from being spoofed. These include manual and automatic screening of new sender IDs, he says.


In late 2023, Taiwan launched a similar effort: all text messages from the government now come from the code ‘111’ to fight SMS fraud. – a recognisable calling card


OGP aims to drive awareness of the single sender ID by working with partner agencies to inform users and through a nationwide mass marketing campaign.


They are also tapping on recognisable branding – – which Singaporeans know well. Many government updates on other channels, such as Telegram and websites, use as a calling card for the government.


“We realized that probably one of the most recognised, universal government branding is,” he says.


The team was “hyperfixated” on ensuring that the change was easily understood by the public, rather than being an additional concern for citizens to think about.


They conducted engagement sessions with policymakers and communications personnel to understand how agencies were communicating with citizens, as well as user-testing sessions and focus group discussions with citizens to collect feedback. Three pilot programmes were launched in April, with a total of 190,000 messages sent to residents.


The reaction was largely positive, he shares, and the feedback was used to streamline the product further.


The team will also be actively engaging people in the community who are less digitally savvy, such as elderly people, and working with partner agencies to raise awareness of the new initiative.

Long-term goals


While most agencies are on board the platform, there are some exceptions for those dealing with National Service and emergency services, such as the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), the SPF and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).


This is to ensure there are multiple channels open for communication in the event of a crisis, he says, though there are plans to reduce the list of exceptions over time.


The team is generally looking to continue improving the authentication of government communication, including calls, he says.


Agencies will begin transitioning to the sender ID by 18 June, with the full transition to be completed by 1 July.