Telcos must upgrade to rein in sim swap crooks

The pain of losing money is all too familiar for those who have fallen victim to the rising number of tech-savvy fraudsters. The advent of technology, which was meant to ease financial transactions, is now a source of serious concern for users and the authorities.

Crooks have, over the years, mastered the art of registering phone numbers on other sim cards, which they use to intercept notifications, passwords and banking profiles of their victims. By the time a victim gets wind of the SIM swap, they are left with empty accounts as well as being locked out of the banking system. As if that is not enough, other thieves go a step further to use the stolen particulars to take out loans from the myriad lending apps dotting our mobile phones.

And despite leading telco Safaricom unveiling a code that helps subscribers to whitelist their numbers as an additional layer of protection, the vice continues largely unabated.

More than ever before, there is a need to go further for both the subscriber and telcos. Though as a short-term measure, one way would be that a customer be allowed to only effect a sim swap in person, therefore sealing any avenues that cheats can use to achieve their ends. Secondly, withdrawal and transfer of large sums of money via internet banking, mobile phone and ATM can be tied to a prior arrangement between the customer and the respective financial service provider in a bid to weed out suspicious deals.

Ultimately, however, sustainable solution is urgently required if the desired digital drive that would lead to the growth of fintech is to be fruitful. As a long-term measure, financial service providers should be compelled to upgrade the technologies they use so as to fraud-proof their systems. Telcos and banks make huge profits from the services they render, which behoves them to safeguard the source—their customers’ money.

All in all, the safety of one’s phone and bank account will always remain with the owner and utmost care is paramount.