Verification of SIM card dealers mandatory: Ashwini Vaishnaw
The minister said WhatsApp, on its own, blocked around 66,000 accounts that were involved in fraudulent activities.
In a bid to check digital frauds, the government has made verification of dealers selling SIM cards mandatory and discontinued the provision of issuing bulk connections, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday.
Earlier, while announcing the new measures, the minister had said that the government has made police verification of SIM card dealers mandatory.
He later clarified that the verification of SIM card dealers will be carried out by "the licensee" or the respective telecom operator and added that a penalty of Rs 10 lakh will be imposed on violators.
Besides, in a move to prevent misuse of printed Aadhaar, the government has mandated capturing of demographic details by scanning QR code of printed Aadhaar, the minister said.
He, however, clarified that Aadhaar is not mandatory for getting SIM.
"Indisputable verification of SIM dealers will be mandatory to curb frauds. A penalty of Rs 10 lakh will be imposed on dealers found violating norms," Vaishnaw said.
The verification will be done by telecom operators who will collect the details of each business owner and his business-related documents for verification before appointing a dealer.
Earlier, detailed documentation of dealer was not prescribed in the rule.
Vaishnaw said that there are 10 lakh SIM card dealers and they will be given sufficient time for verification.
Meanwhile, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in a statement shared that in addition to thumb impression and iris-based authentication in Aadhaar e-KYC process, facial based biometric authentication is also permitted.
"In case of disconnection of a mobile number, it will not be allocated to any other new customer till expiry of 90 days. A subscriber has to undertake complete KYC for replacement of his SIM and there will be bar of 24 hours on outgoing and incoming SMS facilities," the statement said.
The verification of point of sales (PoS) will be done by telecom operators. The move is expected to eliminate the rogue PoS who by fraudulent practices issue SIMs to anti-social and anti-national elements.
The process mandates a written agreement between the PoS and the licensees. If a PoS indulges in any illegal activities, it will be terminated and blacklisted for a period of three years, as per details shared by the DoT.
All the existing PoS will be registered as per this process by licensees within 12 months.
The minister informed that the DoT has also discontinued the provision of bulk connections and instead a new concept of business connection will be introduced.
"Besides, KYC of businesses, KYC of person taking handover of SIM will also be done," Vaishnaw said.
In a widespread crackdown against SIM card-related digital frauds, the minister said that the government has disconnected 52 lakh mobile connections. While 67,000 dealers have been blacklisted, 300 FIRs have been registered against SIM card dealers since May 2023.
Further, the minister said WhatsApp on its own blocked around 66,000 accounts that were involved in fraudulent activities.
Besides, "About 8 lakh bank wallet accounts used by fraudsters have been frozen. Out of 7.5 lakhs complaints about stolen or lost mobile handsets, 3 lakh mobile handsets have been traced and returned to their owners", Vaishnaw said.
According to official data, about 17,000 mobile handsets have been blocked and out of about 18 lakh subscribers' complaints of having fraudulently registered mobile connections in their names, 9.26 lakh complaints have been resolved.