By Mark Kawalya
In Kenya, ICT regulators are encouraging the masses to re-register their SIM cards in an effort to update their information into existing databases. Network players like Safaricom have introduced a system that will safeguard customers’ personal information to ensure that they are not compromised and fraudulently used to register other SIM cards.
Subscribers should have had their information updated before the end of this month, and failure to do so will result in the operators suspending the numbers for a 90-day interval to give the owners more time to re-register their lines. At the expiration of this 90-day period, without an information update, the numbers will be released to the market for new ownership.
The new development is a measure aimed at curbing illegal activities that are aided by fraudulently registered numbers, making it difficult to track the personalities behind the SIM cards. There have even been cases where such information was used by fraudsters to apply for loan facilities, along with a host of other vices that illegally registered SIM cards are used for.
Mobile agents that sell and register SIM cards hold the bulk of the blame for this problem. They register most of the SIM cards and, in many cases, do this without taking the necessary steps to verify the identity of the people for whom they are registering SIM cards. Another common occurrence is the registration of SIM cards using lost or stolen ID documents or even SIM card hawkers who blatantly sell them to anyone willing to buy them.
You are able to check if your ID has been fraudulently used to register another SIM card by dialing *106# on your handset. The code is robust and can be used in three ways.
- You can use it to see the numbers registered under your ID.
- You can use it to report unknown numbers registered to your ID.
- You can use it to confirm a reported number.
However, some users report the service bearing no fruit. One user reported a number that had been fraudulently registered under his ID in September 2021, but to date, the number is still active.
Safaricom has also partnered with agents to stop fraudulent registration in a process that works as follows.
-A subscriber receives an SMS notification when his National ID number is used to register a SIM card.
-The subscriber will be prompted to accept or cancel the registration. When the subscriber declines to accept the registration, the matter is automatically escalated to the Safaricom fraud team for investigation.