Public warned vs SIM swap fraud
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) yesterday warned the public against a new scheme involving SIM card replacement, resulting in identity theft and illegal access to online banking and other personal accounts.

NPC commissioner Raymund Liboro said they have received reports of mobile subscribers falling victims to identity theft following unauthorized replacement of their SIM cards.

Liboro said the scheme involves scammers illegally obtaining a replacement SIM card from a telecommunications provider by posing as the owner of the number and claiming that the original SIM card was stolen.

After getting access to the mobile number, the scammer will be able to use it in various transactions such as online money transfers that require one-time password to the registered mobile numbers.

“A SIM card in the hands of a cyber thief makes mobile authentication meaningless as it becomes almost like a master key for committing all sorts of identity fraud,” Liboro said.

“It leaves the victim’s personal data vulnerable to all sorts of misuse and abuse, including access to e-mail and Facebook accounts as well as unauthorized ATM and online bank withdrawals,” he added.

NPC officials recently met with representatives of Globe Telecom after a prepaid mobile subscriber complained of unauthorized access to his online banking account following an illegal SIM swap.

Liboro noted that Globe only requires an affidavit of loss in issuing a replacement SIM card.

He called on telecommunications companies to enforce more stringent subscriber verification protocols to protect customers from fraudulent SIM card replacement requests.

“We urge telco operators to enforce stringent measures to protect the interests of their subscribers not just against mobile identity thieves but also against all sorts of mobile scammers,” Liboro said.

The NPC said Globe has committed to enforce a 24-hour delay in the activation of newly replaced SIM cards to subscribers who fail to present the SIM bed or are unable to provide proof of identification.

“This is to give prepaid subscribers who may be victims of a SIM swap scheme ample time to respond to SIM replacement text notifications to the purportedly lost phone numbers and allow the subscriber a chance to cancel a malicious request and deter a mobile identity theft in progress,” the NPC said.

Liboro said they would hold a meeting with telecommunication firms and banks to discuss the safety of mobile users.

He urged the public to avoid sharing of personal informations, especially on social media.

“Personal identity thieves start their scheme by collecting information data about you. They could be stalking your Facebook account, sending you phishing e-mails or posing as credit card agents asking detailed personal data,” he said.

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