A bill requiring the registration of all prepaid SIM cards is being introduced in the House of Representatives to increase the number of online scams.
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 assist authorities in tracking down those responsible for fraudulent online activities.
“We change SIM cards as fast as we change our soiled shirts. Alarmingly, this seeming boundless stream of supply has become a magnet for nefarious and illegal activities,” Gatchalian said.
He cited the recent increase in fraudulent bookings in food delivery services such as GrabFood and Food Panda, which defraud both merchants and riders.
“Because users can create fake names and hide behind the anonymity that a prepaid mobile number can give, they become brazen in committing fraudulent acts,” he lamented.
According to the Valenzuela congressman, telecommunications companies, delivery drivers, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) endorse mandatory SIM card registration.
“We want to protect the interest of our hardworking food and package delivery riders who have no choice but absorb the expenses and the penalties incurred when they fall victim to these pranks and scams,” he said.
According to Gatchalian, the new measure could also assist in the abolition of text scams. “We would be able to quickly determine the identity of these scammers because anyone buying a prepaid SIM card would now be forced to have a valid ID,” he said.
His proposed registration of mobile prepaid SIM cards complements the proposed Internet Transactions Act (ITA), of which he is also a principal author in curbing illegal online activities.
“SIM card registration imposes liability on the user while the ITA imposes solidary liability on the e-commerce platform with the online merchant in specific instances. With these two laws in place, the e-commerce sphere would be a safer place for consumers and businesses alike,” he said.