SIM card registration: How to keep personal info from phishing, other cybercrimes

December 27, 2022 - 9:32 AM
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Sim Card Registration Act Philippines
The proposed "SIM Card Registration Act", already ratified by Congress and waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte, has a provision stating that "all social media account providers shall require [the] real name and phone number [of a user] upon creation of account." (Philstar.com artwork)

A cybersecurity firm offered tips on how to stay safe from data breaches and scams following the mandatory registration of new and existing SIM cards.

The National Telecommunications Commission released the implementing rules and regulations of the newly passed SIM Card Registration Act on December 12.

The SIM Card Registration Law, which has been contentious since deliberations, aims to regulate SIM cards in the country to prevent online scams and other cybercrimes in the country.

The topic of registering SIM cards was once again tackled in Congress following the surge of different types of text scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Social media weigh in on regulation of SIM cards amid text scams 

Based on the IRR, all end-users or subscribers of telecommunication providers are required to register their SIM cards within 180 days from the effectivity of the law.

Those who fail to register within this period shall have their phone numbers deactivated.

Stay safe during the registration process

Kaspersky, one of the leading cybersecurity firms globally reminded Filipinos that their personal data are still prone to phishing attacks and other cybercrimes during the registration process.

The firm described phishing as “a form of cybercrime that involves stealing confidential data from a person’s device and using the same data to steal their money.”

Kaspersky also noted the following cyber threats that end-users should be wary of:

  • Doxing
  • Cyberbullying
  • Blackmailing
  • Extortion

The following are tips on how Filipinos can keep their personal data secured and prevent becoming victims of cybercrimes:

  1. Visit and use links of official websites/platforms. Mobile operators in the country have announced that they will launch their online SIM registration platforms.
  2. Check each link and email carefully. When you receive an email, do not rush to reply or follow its instructions. The first thing you should do is look for telltale signs of phishing such as mistakes, typos and strange characters in the text as well as inconsistent sender address. Check the links in the email if it contains them or the website they lead to.
  3. Use reliable security protection on your device. Check every single address, link, and so on.

Doubts and concerns

Several Filipinos who have received unsolicited text messages in the past welcomed the passage of the law and the IRR.

Other mobile users, however, expressed concerns about data breaches, red-tagging and other privacy risks.

“Most people don’t understand that sim card registration will cause a black market (of stolen SIMs), encourages data breaches, and can increase identify theft (a fraudster can call the telco, pretend to be you, and be sent a copy of your personal number),” one Reddit user said.

“Instead ma-track ang scammers, they track working citizens that prefer privacy at di mag-harass nila way back. Imagine they can red-tag the f*** out of anyone,” another Reddit user pointed out.

Some of them also expressed their doubts if the government can implement this fairly.

“Sana sa lahat, hindi lang sa mahirap nag pa-function ang batas na yan….’pag mahirap kasi ang nakagawa ng violation gumagana agad ang batas,” one Facebook user said.

“And what kind of verification would you be doing to ensure that these IDs are truly legit or it’s just another publicity?” another Facebook user commented.

Some Redditors, meanwhile, voiced out the difficulty of securing IDs that are considered valid by the government. This includes the much-awaited national ID.

“Napaka-annoying ng loops you have to jump along with the time and money you have to burn to access an id. Kung sana man lang the barangay or city IDs are considered eh hindi eh,” one Redditor said.

A valid government-issued ID is among the requirements in the SIM card registration process.

The full IRR of SIM Card Registration Act can be accessed here NTC MC No. 001-12-2022.pdf.