SIM card registration to end online scams

<p>Senator Sherwin Gatchalian <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said it is high time that the Philippines joins the growing list of countries mandating the registration of pre-paid subscriber identity module (SIM) cards to finally put to an end on the prevalence of scams and other forms of online deceptions.

“Hangga’t walang batas na magpaparusa sa mga kawatan, hindi matatapos ang pambibiktima sa mga gumagawa ng trabaho nila nang marangal at umaasang may maiuwi sa kanilang pamilya (As long as there is no law to punish thieves, there will be no end to the woes of those who work with dignity in the hope of sustaining their families being victimized),” Gatchalian said in a news release on Wednesday.

As of March 2020, there were already 155 countries that require proof of identity of a person in purchasing a SIM card, Gatchalian said, citing data from UK-based Privacy International.

Gatchalian, vice chairperson of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, was referring to the series of incidents involving scams committed on food delivery riders through online orders or bookings.

Recent news reports showed that five riders received different orders via delivery app Foodpanda for the same address in Quezon City only to find out that it is an abandoned place.

Several other incidents have been posted through various social media accounts. Last year, at least 10 riders delivered food amounting to PHP20,000 to a subdivision resident in Las Piñas City who claimed to have not placed any order through a food delivery app.

“Kung may tamang pagkakakilanlan ang taong nagpa-deliver gamit ang delivery app, hindi magiging madali ang makapangloko sa mga food riders at maiiwasan ang mga ganitong klase ng insidente. Nakapanlulumo na sa gitna ng pandemya ay may mga taong nagagawa pang makapanlamang sa mga tinatawag nating essential workers sa mga panahong ito (If the person who delivered using the delivery app has the correct identification, it will not be easy to fool food riders and avoid these kinds of incidents. It is depressing that amid the pandemic there are still people who are able to take advantage of what we call essential workers these days),” he said.

At the time of his filing of Senate Bill (SB) 176 in July 2019, Gatchalian said foremost of his concern was that of addressing nefarious and illegal activities such as text scams, ransom demands through untraceable mobile numbers, and bombing incidents when mobile phones with pre-paid SIM cards are often used as triggering devices.

Under SB 176 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, end users of prepaid SIM cards shall be required to present a valid ID and photo and sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider of the purchased SIM card. Copies of the accomplished forms shall be furnished to the same service provider and the National Telecommunications Commission. (PR)