SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module. SIM card registration is the process of recording and verifying mobile phone number/s and personal information of a subscriber, by a communications service provider. Such information includes the subscriber’s photograph, name, date of birth, gender, residential address and other details of valid identification documents.
The SIM registration exercise is aimed primarily to reduce mobile phone related crimes such as prank calls, cyber-crime, kidnapping, mobile money fraud and its related issues and general security matter. It is also intended to help the law enforcement agencies to identify the SIM card owners, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb incidents such as phone theft, hate text messages, mobile fraud activities, inciting violence and probably to help Telcos know their subscribers better. The registration exercise further help to combat crime such as SIM Box fraud because no one can use fake names for SIM registration. The exercise also enables subscribers to be identified as they use value added services such as mobile banking, mobile money, and electronic payments for services.
Due to this crucial nature of SIM registration and its security implications, the process of getting SIM registered must be done properly and checked to avoid inconsistencies and fake subscriber identity. SIM cards must contain valid user identity in conformity to the national identification standards as enshrined in the L.I. 2006, the subscriber identity module registration regulation of Ghana in 2011.
Fake SIM Registration
It was observed in the last nationwide SIM registration exercise in 2011 that some of the agents of the Telcos who operated in most part of the country, connived with fraudsters and allowed them to register SIMs with fake ID card numbers. These agents mostly did not demand picture IDs before registration and even if they did, the ID numbers the subscribers provided were not easily verifiable so the Telcos found it extremely difficult to prevent the fake SIM registration.
Fake SIM registration is a recipe for disaster in the mobile communications ecosystem because bad people usually use such fraudulent act to perpetrate criminal activities on the mobile communication space. Security agencies such as criminal investigations department (CID) cyber security unit mostly find it difficult to investigate crime committed with fake registered SIM and its related offenses. For instance, Mobile money fraud and scratch card theft is on the ascendency in Ghana but the security agencies mandated to handle such crime have no clue where to begin the investigations from because the SIM used by these criminals were registered with fake information. This has made it extremely difficult for the security agencies especially Ghana Police Service to combat crime involving mobile devices.
Pre-registered SIM is also another issue which exposed the subscriber to several unforeseen inconveniences. Pre-registered SIM is when agents of Telcos intentionally use fake information to register SIM cards, activate the services on the SIM and sell to unsuspecting subscribers. The danger here is that, in case of SIM loss, subscribers are required to prove their identity which usually does not match with the pre-registered SIM information.