Telco’s plea: Bust cybercriminals, not limit SIM card ownership
MANILA -Instead of limiting the allowed SIM (subscriber identity module) cards being registered by each person, Smart Communications Inc. raised the need to further look into how these devices are being used for fraudulent activities such as text scams in order to address cyberthreats.
In a statement, the Manuel Pangilinan-led telecommunications player called on stakeholders to come up with a “holistic solution” to online and text scams, which are variants of phishing activity whereby hackers trick unsuspecting victims into giving out their personal information.
“We need to dive deeper into how criminals operate and bring to light the entire cyber scam ecosystem. Instead of obsessing over or focusing on certain parts, all stakeholders should work together on a holistic solution,” Smart vice president and head of regulatory affairs Roy Ibay said.
This statement was made amid recent reports of SIM cards still being used for scams despite the implementation of the mandatory registration to curb the proliferation of such fraudulent activities.
The National Bureau of Investigation also recently revealed that fake IDs are being accepted by SIM card registration portals, which can be exploited by cyberhackers.
According to the SIM Registration Act, individuals guilty of using fictitious or fraudulent IDs to register can be penalized with imprisonment of six months to two years or a fine of P100,000 to P300,000, or both.
To prevent mass registration of SIM cards—potentially with the use of fake IDs—the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) said it would look into limiting the number of SIM card ownership per person.
For example, Information and Communication Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy said a person could only register three to four SIM cards since the country only has three telecom players.
As this develops, the DICT, alongside the National Telecommunications Commission and other telco players, is finalizing the guidelines to validate the registered SIM cards for the purpose of eliminating fraudulent records.
Since July 25, or the deadline of SIM registration for existing users, Smart said has blocked over 24,000 mobile numbers found to be engaged in phishing activities.
It also foiled over six million fraudulent messages last month.
Smart reminded the public to never provide their one-time passwords to anyone, noting that banks would never ask for such information.
In addition, the public was advised against clicking on suspicious links on messages to avoid accidentally giving sensitive data to hackers.