Cases of people’s ID numbers being used to register SIM cards without their knowledge have been on the rise.
Partly, this is due to lax data protection laws in Kenya, and while there’s an exciting legal framework that should protect users against these fraud cases, we haven’t seen the law come in handy at a time when Kenyans are seeing blatant abuses of their private data.
A couple of weeks ago, we looked into a simple but tedious process of establishing if your ID has been used to register other SIM cards. This was true for Safaricom, whose customer care is always quick at helping. All you had to do was shoot them a message on their social media pages, and they would answer you.
This is no longer the case because Safaricom and Airtel Kenya have a new access code for such an exercise.
The code, which *106#, is more robust because it does the following:
- You can use it to check your numbers (this is where you see all numbers registered using your name/ID)
- You can report unknown numbers associated with your ID
- Cancel a reported number
This is a handy way of ensuring that your details are only associated with your number.
You may want to know why this is important, and the simple answer is that fraudsters can use your details to register a number for the wrong reasons, like committing a crime. The details can also find their way into services that you are not aware of, such as accessing online loans that are so easy to get.
On the whole, you can get the sense of the entire case, and why other telcos should be doing the same thing.
It is also timely because operators have been asking their customers to visit their care centres to ensure that their numbers are registered with their credentials.
However, will this development solve the issue? We are not sure, because we somehow think that operators are to blame because they make SIM card registrations so easy.
We think that no one should own multiple SIM cards without the approval of operators, and if it is necessary, then the process should be formal where the customers request for a new SIM card via email or letter, which should also be reviewed by the CA.
New SIM cards must also be registered at Safaricom Shops and not via M-PESA agents.
Also, why not second SIM cards expensive to discourage the need for multiple numbers?
We will see how the process will proceed, and if the issue will be weeded out once and for good.