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Philippines govt plans to sue telcos and retailers over unregistered SIM cards

The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) is eyeing to file a case against telecommunication companies (telcos) and their retailers who failed to properly manage unregistered SIM cards.

Majority of the SIM cards are prepaid Smart SIM cards. Other SIM cards seized which are on record with GCash accounts also include Globe prepaid cards.

These unregistered cards are being exploited by criminals to defraud the public, including receiving messages for online bank transactions, according to CICC executive director Alexander K. Ramos.

Ramos said they were alarmed when an ongoing investigation found that unregistered SIM cards were being used to receive online bank transaction messages.

“It’s time for the government to get tough on these telcos,” he added.

Law enforcement authorities who clamped down on organized crime including call center type operations recently seized thousands of SIM cards with various faked identities and unregistered SIM cards used to defraud the public.

Ramos said the CICC will meet with the National Telecommunication Commission to share their findings.

The SIM Registration Act or Republic Act No. 11934 commonly known as the SIM card law, mandates the registration of all SIM cards before activation. The law which took effect on Dec.27,2022, was intended to curb cybercriminal activities and the spread of text scams.

A total of 113,969,014 SIM cards were registered as of July 30, 2023. This accounts for 67.83 percent of the 168,016,400 SIM cards previously thought to be in circulation. Ramos said that some subscribers continue to receive scam messages from unregistered SIM cards.

“Organized cybercrime syndicates have been using unregistered SIM cards and or SIM Cards with stolen identities to send fraudulent SMS with dangerous links,” he said.

CICC is appealing to victims of text scams and other cybercrimes to call the Inter Agency Response Center hotline 1326. Manila Standard

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