To reduce the number of online scams, a bill requiring the registration of all prepaid SIM cards is being introduced in the House of Representatives.
Wes Gatchalian, Deputy Speaker for Trade and Industry, has called for the immediate passage of his House Bill No. 5793, the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, which would aid authorities in locating those responsible for fraudulent online activities.
“We change SIM cards as often as we change our dirty clothes. Worryingly, this almost limitless supply has become a trap for nefarious and illegal activities,” Gatchalian explained.
He cited the recent rise in fraudulent bookings in food delivery services like GrabFood and Food Panda, which defraud both merchants and riders.
“Because users can build fake identities and hide behind the anonymity provided by a prepaid mobile number, they become bold in committing fraudulent acts,” he lamented.
According to the Valenzuela congressman, telecommunications providers, delivery drivers, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) support mandatory SIM card registration.
“We want to protect the interests of our hardworking food and package delivery riders, who have no choice but to bear the costs and fines incurred when they fall victim to these pranks and scams,” he said.
According to Gatchalian, the new measure could also help to eliminate text scams. “We would be able to easily ascertain the identity of these scammers because anyone purchasing a prepaid SIM card would now be required to present a legitimate ID,” he said.
His proposed registration of mobile prepaid SIM cards complements the proposed Internet Transactions Act (ITA), of which he is also a primary author in combating illicit online activities.
“In some cases, SIM card registration imposes liability on the customer, while the ITA imposes solidary liability on the e-commerce website and the online retailer. With these two laws in effect, the e-commerce industry will be a better place for both customers and companies, he said.