Admitting widespread digital fraud, the centre has taken a step through the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). Now Department of Telecommunication requires mandatory registration and verification of ‘sim dealers’. Such verification of sim card dealers will be carried out by the ‘licensee’ or the concerned ‘telecom operator’. The minister highlighted that they have blocked or disconnected 52 lacks mobile connections, and 67,000 dealers were blacklisted. Since May 2023, a total of 300 FIR have been registered against the sim card dealers. The centre clarified that this indisputable verification process of sim card dealers is compulsory, and it will help to curb the growing cyber fraud. There will be a penalty of 10 lacks in case of any violations of the norms by the dealers.
No more bulk sim card connections
It is prescribed that now the Department of Telecommunication will not allow the issue of bulk sim card connections. Instead, there will be a concept of business connections with a proper KYC process. With the KYC of businesses, a person who is taking handover of the SIM is also required to get his KYC done. Such new norms and rules related to the sim card dealer’s verifications shall be implemented from October 1, 2023, and it was highlighted that since there are around 10 lacks sim card dealers, the sim card dealers will be given a sufficient time period of 6 months to ensure compliance of the new norms and rules.
In a move to control digital fraud and spam calls, the government has taken a proactive step to ban the bulk sale of sim cards and made mandatory verification of dealers. It is a good move to control online fraud related to sim cards and spam calls. The government highlighted the misuse of sim card numbers and hence took this step.
Recent instances of sim card-related fraud
- Recently in May 2023, Mumbai police deactivated 2,197 sim cards which were fraudulently obtained by fraudsters and used for committing cyber frauds or operating illegal cyber fraud-oriented call centres. Police discovered that these sim cards were obtained by fraudsters through bogus Aadhar cards and photos.
- In Kolkata, a businessman lost 72 lacks in sim-swap fraud. Fraudsters fraudulently gained access to his sim card and made unauthorised financial transactions by gaining access.
There has been an increase in reports of cyber fraud in the country. The surge in cyber frauds committed through fraudulently acquired sim cards has highlighted concerns. The sim card dealers are required to do mandatory verification and registration with the licensee and telecom operator with the proper detailed documentation. The Centre has also made police verification of sim card dealers mandatory. There will be a penalty of 10 lacks on the violators of norms and rules. Such a step by the Department of Telecommunication is a commendable step to curb the cyber fraud in the country. It will also prevent the use of unauthorised acquired sim cards by fraudsters. Verification and proper documentation of sim card dealers will ensure transparency and accountability. There have been incidents where sim numbers are used for fraudulent transaction activities and spamming. New norms by the government will help in curbing such fraudulent activities or growing cyber crimes.
Author: Neeraj Soni, Intern – Policy & Advocacy, CyberPeace Foundation