Telcos lose control of agents as unregistered SIM cards rocket
2 months ago, 19 Sep 00:06
Mobile phone service providers have lost control of the agents they contract to distribute their products, the communications regulator has said.
Instead, the agents are now running rogue operations and activating unregistered SIM cards in a bid to push up sales and grow commissions.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) yesterday noted that there had been a surge in the number of agents hawking SIM cards and activating the numbers without subjecting the new subscribers to the ‘know your customer’ requirements set out by law.
This has led to a surge in the number of unregistered SIM cards, exposing Kenyans to fraud perpetrated using mobile phones. This is also a threat to national security.
CA said the SIM cards were unearthed by an audit that the regulator undertook on the processes used by the operators and their agents in recruiting new customers.
Director General Francis Wangusi said the lapses were due to the focus on growing subscriber numbers and revenues for both the operators and their agents.
He directed mobile network operators to switch off all unregistered numbers within a week or face the law. The operators were also ordered to file with CA all the firms they have contracted as their agents.
“According to the findings, operators are not in control of the agents. This was occasioned by weak controls in management of SIM sales agents,” said Mr Wangusi.
“In most cases, a dangerous trend was noted where the MNO databases had records that appeared to have been populated from other secondary sources. Other SIM cards were found to have multiple registrations with different identity details, with potential use for criminal purposes,” he said.
The audit also noted that the agreements between the operators and agents were purely commercial and did not place any obligations on the agents with respect to adherence to SIM card regulations.
“This is a dangerous trend that jeopardises the security of citizens in the country and must therefore stop,” said Wangusi.
The threat to take action on mobile operators is the latest in a series of such directives by CA. The last of these was in May this year, when the authority said it would recommend the arrest and prosecution of the telcos’ chief executives if they continued activating new numbers on their networks illegally.
“Overall, the audit showed that the data in the subscriber databases of the MNOs was incomplete and inaccurate, pointing to the need for a verification system to help enhance authenticity of the data,” said Wangusi.
Regulations that came into effect in 2015 require operators to have the details of their customers such as their identification numbers and physical addresses.
Category: topnews news business