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DoT to frame guidelines for SIM replacement

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is working to frame guidelines for issuance of replacement SIM cards, in case of damage or theft. The DoT had a meeting with telecom operators last week to seek their suggestions around SIM swaps and to discuss how its misuse can be stopped.

SIM swap means changing of a SIM card. It is required when a SIM card is damaged or the device has been stolen. The customer approaches the mobile operator to replace the old SIM with a new SIM and after proper verification, the new SIM is given to a customer. But on various occasions, SIM swap has been used by fraudsters to take out money from the account of a person by illegally getting a new SIM card by submitting fake documents to a telecom operator.

As per the modus operandi of a SIM swap fraud, the fraudster obtains a person’s bank account details and registered mobile number through phishing or any other method and after that, the fraudster approaches the mobile operator with fake papers to get the original SIM blocked. After verification, the original SIM is blocked and a new SIM is issued to the fraudster. This allows the fraudster to receive one-time passwords (OTPs) and he can do fraudulent transactions. By the time, the original customer realises what has happened, the fraudster has undertaken several financial transactions, stealing money from the bank account.

As per sources, DoT has asked mobile operators to give their suggestions around SIM swap, based on which the guidelines can be framed. Another meeting on the issue is planned next week. Basically, it has been deliberated how to ensure that only the genuine customers are able to get to replacement SIMs and not the fraudsters. For instance, if the SIM has been damaged, it should be certified. Similarly, in case of theft, submitting a copy of first information report (FIR) may be required. But the DoT and operators don’t want to make the rules so stringent and cumbersome that it affects the genuine customers.

Currently, most of the banks and mobile operators issue regular advisories around SIM swap and how customers can protect themselves from fraud. But once the guidelines are there, it will become easy for operators as well as customers to check misuse of SIM cards. Financial Express

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