No more bulk SIM cards as government steps in to curb fraud

With 67,000 SIM dealers blacklisted in recent months, the requirement is aimed at reducing cyber frauds and scam calls with SIM dealers’ cooperation.

Updated - August 18, 2023 11:17 am IST

Published - August 17, 2023 06:43 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Fraud detection mechanisms have been put in place to identify individuals who have registered more than nine mobile connections, the maximum that is permitted. File

Fraud detection mechanisms have been put in place to identify individuals who have registered more than nine mobile connections, the maximum that is permitted. File | Photo Credit: Getty Images

In order to reduce cyber frauds performed through fraudulently acquired SIM cards, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will now require registration and “indisputable verification” of SIM dealers, it was announced on Thursday. Recent efforts to curb fraudulent mobile connections have led to the blacklisting of 67,000 SIM dealers, 52 lakh connections, and the registration of over 300 First Information Reports (FIR), Minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw told reporters.

“The data and evidence we saw showed us that there is complicity of dealers in cyber frauds, where attackers buy numbers in bulk, use them to call and defraud people, and quickly move on to another number. SIM dealers who are found complicit in such schemes will be fined ₹10 lakh,” Mr. Vaishnaw said.

The detailed guidelines on these new penalties are yet to be published by the DoT.

The enforcement move follows the launch of the Sanchar Saathi portal in May, along with the wider roll-out of fraud detection mechanisms to identify individuals who have registered more than nine mobile connections, the maximum that is permitted.

Also read | 17,000 extra SIM cards of subscribers beyond 9 connections deactivated in Bihar and Jharkhand

Bulk SIMs

The facility to provide SIM connections in bulk to companies is being discontinued, and instead a “business” system is being put in place, where each corporate subscriber has to undertake KYC (‘Know Your Customer’) when a SIM is being issued to them. The existing bulk system requires companies to preserve records of individual subscribers. Physical Aadhaar printouts or cards provided as identity or address proof will also have to be verified by scanning the QR code to reduce fraud.

A transition period will be provided for bulk subscribers to get themselves verified under the new regime, Mr. Vaishnaw said. Government, defense and law enforcement bulk subscribers will continue to be exempt from additional verification requirements, he added.

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