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In order to help members of the public verify the identities of SMS senders, all companies or organisations participating in the SMS Sender Registration Scheme ("Scheme") have started using "Registered SMS Sender IDs" with prefix "#" to send SMS to local subscribers of mobile services in Hong Kong.
The Scheme has been implemented since 28 December 2023, with participation from major telecommunications service providers, major banks and individual government departments. The Scheme is now open for application by all sectors. Companies or organisations with practical needs to send SMS messages may submit applications to OFCA if they are interested in participating in the Scheme.
Under all circumstances, members of the public should stay highly vigilant when receiving SMS from unknown senders, and must not disclose to unidentified senders any personal information, bank account numbers or credit card details, transfer money or access any hyperlink in the SMS, to avoid suffering any loss.
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What is the SMS Sender Registration Scheme?

In order to help members of the public verify the identities of SMS senders, the Scheme has been implemented since 28 December 2023. All Registered Senders under the Scheme have started using Registered SMS Sender IDs with prefix "#" to send SMS to local subscribers of mobile services in Hong Kong1.

A participating company or organisation is required to apply to OFCA to become a Registered Sender, and register its SMS Sender ID(s) with prefix "#". The relevant registrations are recorded in the SMS Sender Registry ("Registry") established by OFCA for public information. Only those companies or organisations being Registered Senders are able to send SMS using their Registered SMS Sender IDs with prefix "#". With such arrangements, members of the public receiving SMS in Hong Kong can easily identify whether the SMS is from a Registered Sender by looking at the prefix "#" in the SMS Sender ID.

Remarks:

1 Local subscribers of mobile services in Hong Kong refer to subscribers of services provided by Hong Kong telecommunications service providers and for use within the territory of Hong Kong.

Why is it necessary to set up the Scheme?

OFCA has been working closely with the Hong Kong Police Force ("HKPF") and telecommunications service providers to assist in combating fraudulent calls and SMS from the perspective of telecommunications services. The launch of the Scheme with participating companies or organisations started sending SMS to local subscribers of mobile services in Hong Kong using Registered SMS Sender IDs with prefix “#” help members of the public verify the identities of SMS senders so as to help stop fraudsters from masquerading as these organisations in sending SMS to mobile service users.

Which companies or organisations have participated in the Scheme? What is the implementation date of the Scheme?

The Scheme has been implemented since 28 December 2023. Major telecommunications service providers, major banks and individual government departments have joined the Scheme and started sending SMS using Registered SMS Sender ID(s) with prefix "#"2. The Scheme is now open for application by all sectors. Companies or organisations with practical needs to send SMS messages may submit applications to OFCA if they are interested in participating in the Scheme.

OFCA will keep updating the Registry by including any new participating company or organisation of the Scheme in the future.

Remarks:

2 The Scheme is not applicable to SMS of which receiving parties are expected to reply to the senders via phone numbers. The Sender IDs of these SMS usually contain numeric digits only to facilitate direct reply by the recipients. Subject to the progress of system upgrade by the participating companies or organisations, certain SMS may still be sent not using the Registered SMS Sender IDs during the early stage of implementation. If a subscriber receives such SMS and has any doubt about the identity of the sender, he/she should contact the relevant sender for verification before responding.

When I receive an SMS on my phone, how can I locate the SMS sender ID of such SMS?

If you want to find out the SMS sender ID, please follow the steps below:

iOS System
Go to the "Messages" application on your phone. On the screen, the first line of each message (as indicated by the red circles in the sample images below) indicates the SMS sender ID.
ios 1

Android System
Go to the "Messages" application on your phone. On the screen, the first line of each message (as indicated by the red circles in the sample images below) indicates the SMS sender ID.
android 1

How can I check whether the sender ID of the SMS received is a Registered SMS Sender ID?

The Registry is established and maintained by OFCA to keep the latest records of Registered Senders and their corresponding Registered SMS Sender IDs with prefix "#". These Registered SMS Sender IDs have been used to send SMS to local subscribers of mobile services in Hong Kong. Members of the public can follow the steps below to check the Registered SMS Sender IDs with prefix "#":

Steps for checking Registered SMS Sender IDs

1. Locate the SMS sender ID of the SMS received
image 1

2. Open the link of the Registry (By alphabetical order of the Registered SMS Sender IDs / By alphabetical order of the Registered Senders' names in English ) and check whether the SMS sender ID is registered by relevant Registered Sender

* The Registry in the sample images below is sorted by alphabetical order of the Registered SMS Sender IDs
image 2

Do I need to make any change of settings on my phone or submit application to the mobile service provider in order to receive SMS with Registered SMS Sender ID(s) having prefix "#"? Is there any charge levied?

The service is provided free of charge by mobile service providers. You do not need to submit any applications to the mobile service providers, make any changes to the handset settings or install any mobile apps.

Is there anything I need to be aware of when I receive an SMS with a Registered SMS Sender ID having prefix "#"?

When you receive an SMS with Registered SMS Sender ID having prefix "#", it indicates that the SMS is sent by a Registered Sender.

If necessary, you can also check the Registry (By alphabetical order of the Registered SMS Sender IDs / By alphabetical order of the Registered Senders' name in English) established by OFCA to verify the Registered SMS Sender ID received and the corresponding company or organisation as a Registered Sender. If you still have any doubt about the identity of the SMS sender, please contact the relevant company or organisation for further verification.

What should I do if I receive an SMS with a sender ID not having prefix "#"?

Companies or organisations not registered under the Scheme will send other SMS using sender ID without prefix "#" as usual, however, the sender’s identity of such SMS has not been verified. Hence, you should stay highly vigilant when receiving SMS with sender ID not having prefix "#", especially when such SMS is sent from an unknown sender. Under all circumstances, you must not disclose to unidentified senders any personal information, bank account numbers or credit card details, transfer money or access any hyperlink in the SMS, to avoid suffering any loss.

Will Registered Senders continue to send SMS using sender ID(s) without prefix "#"?

Following the implementation of the Scheme, Registered Senders may need to continue to send SMS using sender ID without prefix "#" to their customers from time to time due to their operational needs (e.g. SMS which receiving parties are expected to reply to the senders via phone numbers). Customers receiving such SMS will be required to reply/confirm his/her choice with regard to the matters stated in the SMS (e.g. confirmation of transaction or purchase of designated service) and the reply could be directly sent to the senders via phone numbers. The sender IDs of these SMS usually contain numeric digits only to facilitate direct reply from the recipients and therefore Registered SMS Sender IDs with prefix "#" will not be used. If a subscriber receives such SMS and has any doubt about the identity of the sender, he/she should contact the company or organisation sending that SMS for verification.

Reference Materials

Last Revision Date: 19 April 2024

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