In a move to combat fraudulent activities involving SIM cards, the Indian government has implemented stricter regulations on the issuance of SIM card connections.
Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnav announced that SIM card dealers will now be required to undergo police verification, while bulk issuance of connections will be discontinued.
Cracking Down on Fraudulent Practices:
Minister Vaishnav highlighted the prevalence of SIM boxes facilitating automated spam calls and the practice of fraudsters obtaining multiple SIMs in batches, only to deactivate them after use.
To address these concerns,
the government has undertaken a comprehensive review and decided to revamp the system for business connections.
Individual-Level KYC for Business Connections:
Under the new regulations, businesses seeking SIM card connections in bulk will need to complete the Know Your Customer (KYC) process at the individual employee level.
This ensures thorough verification and prevents shortcuts in the verification process. Previously, SIM dealers were observed to neglect due diligence in accordance with the law.
Strengthening Dealer Verification and Registration:
Minister Vaishnav emphasized the importance of dealer verification and registration, noting that some dealers have been complicit in facilitating fake SIM card issuance. This move is a collaborative effort involving consultations with law enforcement agencies and telecom industry representatives.
Impact and Enforcement:
While this regulatory shift might appear incremental, it is expected to bring about substantial positive changes.
The government’s efforts have already yielded notable results, with the closure of 52 lakh mobile connections and the blacklisting of 67,000 SIM card dealers.
Notably, 300 First Information Reports (FIRs) have been filed against SIM card dealers since May 2023.
Additionally, the crackdown extended to blocking 66,000 fake WhatsApp accounts and 17,000 lost or stolen mobile handsets.