People have found themselves in trouble for using SIM cards that are not registered using their credentials.
This is a big issue that has been around for a long time. Partly, we can blame telcos and associated regulators for not doing enough to ensure that fraudsters do not have it easy when they want to get a non-traceable SIM.
The system for SIM cards registration is also poor because there simply aren’t enough measures to ensure that the person presenting registration documents actually owns them.
There are also cases where people lose their IDs, only for them to be used to register SIMs without their knowledge.
That is not all, because agents, such as M-PESA ones that are tasked to register SIM cards collude with fraudsters to illegally register SIM cards.
It goes further than that considering that the state has seen the mushrooming of online and dubious loan apps that do little to no due diligence when dishing out quick loans. It means that people owe money to these online loan sharks because their documents were used to register SIM cards that they did not know existed.
A few weeks ago, we wrote a small guideline about how you can establish if your credentials have been used to register other lines – and that is important to know so because people have and continue crimes using irregularly registered SIM cards, and you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of the law.
To this end, a public service announcement has been aired to Kenyans about the whole SIM card registration fiasco.
The statement reiterates the definitions of the Kenya Information and Communications Act and the SIM Card Registration Regulations (2015). Kenyans are being asked to make sure that their SIM cards are properly registered with their valid identification documents.
To do this, the announcement is advising people to visit the nearest telco outlet, be it Telkom, Safaricom or Airtel with their original documents, and establish that registration has been done correctly.
This exercise is to ensure that all customer mobile numbers are properly registered against the correct identification details provided by the owners of the SIM cards. Please note it is illegal to have a SIM card that is not registered with the correct documents – reads the announcement.
As said, this is a tedious exercise that is clearly not going to be completed fully because of the friction of visiting a care centre. Safaricom, for instance, has more than 31 million subscribers, and it would be naïve to assume that all these people have the capacity to establish the authenticity of their SIM card state.
So, what can be done?
Well, operators should tighten the model used to register SIM cards. Let them harshly punish agents who dubiously register SIM cards because they are the weakest link in this exercise.
Operators should also look for ways that customers can establish if their documents have been used to register other lines unknown to them without necessarily engaging them on social media or visiting their service shops.
Note, it is the responsibility of operators to ensure that the registration exercise adheres to the law, and customers must not be asked to engage them in this cumbersome process that is likely going to attract very few numbers.