SIM registration ‘not silver bullet’ vs text scams—NTC

SIM registration ‘not silver bullet’ vs text scams, says NTC

LISTUP In this April 2023 photo, a man seeks assistance from a telco personnel manning a kiosk at the Quezon City Hall compound to register his SIM card. —LYN RILLON

LISTUP In this April 2023 photo, a man seeks assistance from telco personnel manning a kiosk at the Quezon City Hall compound to register his SIM card. —Lyn Rillon

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has admitted that text scams have continued to victimize Filipinos despite mandatory SIM (subscriber identity module) card registration, as the agency vowed to “tighten” enforcement of the regulations under the landmark SIM Registration Act of 2022.

The NTC stressed in a statement on Monday, however, that while the SIM Registration Act was “an important tool” to fight against scams perpetrated using mobile phones as it provides the legal sanctions for SIM-aided offenses, it was “not a silver bullet against messaging scams.”


READ: Senator slams NTC’s failure to curb scams


The telco regulator issued the statement after Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian accused it on Sunday of “sleeping on the job” after recent raids conducted against Smartweb Technology Corp. in Pasay City, Zun Yuan Technology Inc. located in Bamban, Tarlac, and Lucky South 99, which straddles Porac town and Angeles City in Pampanga yielded numerous SIM cards that had supposedly been used to perpetrate various fraud and scamming activities.

In the case of Zun Yuan, Gatchalian said authorities had discovered SIM cards bearing false identities, along with various phones and scripts for scamming purposes. These SIM cards were said to be used in undertaking love scams, cryptocurrency scams, and other investment scams.

The NTC said that these scamming activities “have become a regional phenomenon not confined only within the Philippines,” thus acknowledging the need to enhance the enforcement of SIM card registration.

Identifying owners

The SIM Registration Act, or Republic Act No. 11934, was the first law signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It was designed to reduce, if not eliminate, scams committed through text or online messages by identifying SIM card owners or users. Thus, it eliminated the anonymity that had previously made it easier to carry out scams using a mobile phone.

Providing false or fictitious information when registering is an offense punishable by imprisonment for six months to two years, a fine of up to P300,000, or both.

For fraudulently using a registered SIM card, the punishment includes jail time of at least six years or a fine of P200,000, or both.


“[In] light of these recent developments and discoveries, the NTC shall continue to tighten its regulations pertaining to SIM registration to the fullest extent allowed under the existing law,” the government agency vowed.

The NTC added that it had been working with law enforcement agencies to investigate the rising cases of text scams. In addition, the agency noted that it had been conducting public information and awareness campaigns to educate Filipinos.

Other platforms

Meanwhile, the NTC also flagged the hackers’ use of so-called over-the-top messaging platforms like Whatsapp, Viber, Telegram, and Messenger to launch scams.

These apps are not covered by law, which increases the vulnerability of users against fraudulent activities.

Through these messaging apps, cybercriminals are making various fake offers, such as job opportunities and investments, to secure the trust of unsuspecting victims.

In doing so, users might provide personal information such as contact numbers, addresses, and bank account details. Having such data enables hackers to illegally take over their personal accounts, including e-wallets.

Account takeovers can lead to financial losses for victims, as hackers can siphon money from bank or e-wallet accounts.

“NTC took the initiative of coordinating with Meta (owner of Facebook, Whatsapp and Messenger) and Viber to discuss how to address these issues. As regards other platforms, NTC awaits reply to its invitation for coordination,” it said.

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Telecommunications and cybersecurity companies also reminded the public to ignore text spam to protect themselves from accidentally sharing sensitive information.

TAGS: NTC, Sherwin Gatchalian, SIM Registration Act

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