With poor awareness among customers, SIM card verification fraud thrives in Kozhikode

Many respond positively to spammers’ calls and readily provide bank account details

July 26, 2021 12:04 am | Updated 12:04 am IST - KOZHIKODE

The number of people duped in the name of SIM card verification is on the rise as many continue to respond carelessly to spam messages and calls. According to cyber cell officials, many people were not yet aware of the fraud and had not secured their bank accounts.

Recent incidents in Kozhikode in which the SIM cards of various mobile service providers got blocked due to unknown technical reasons have also contributed to an increase in the number of mobile phone users falling prey to the fraud. Since automated verification calls are a common practice by mobile service providers to welcome new customers to the network, many users are confused about how to manage the situation.

Though banking records are not required to verify a SIM, many people respond positively to spammers’ calls and SMSes and readily provide their bank account details. Many police stations in the district have witnessed a spike in the number of complaints related to banking fraud involving exchange of banking details with spammers.

“An automated SIM verification process is adopted by most cell phone service providers, which can be easily accessed by customers through the interactive voice response system. No customer care executive will contact the SIM cardholders to verify bank accounts. People are yet to be aware of this simple fact,” said an official with the Police Cyberdome. He said the campaign undertaken by the police across the State against the exchange of banking details was yet to be taken seriously.

The SIM card verification fraud comes close on the heels of the scam using fake profiles on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. With increased public awareness, those responding positively to funds requests made from the fake profiles of their contacts have decreased across the State. The quick response from social media platforms to requests for blocking such profiles has also helped prevent the fraud.

“The creation of fake WhatsApp profiles using stolen photos of prominent individuals to request money is still happening. Many of those who were reluctant to verify such messages by calling the persons concerned have fallen victims,” said a senior officer with the Kozhikode Cyber Police station. He said those who had lost money in the fraud were all educated people.

Senior executives with prominent cellular operators said incidents of unexpected SIM card blocking could be easily addressed through authorised service centres. They said the reactivation and delivery of blocked SIM cards were not done via online customer care. Duplicate SIM cards would be issued to customers directly only after physical verification of identity documents, they added.

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