NBTC, police roll out SIM crackdown

NBTC, police roll out SIM crackdown

The Technology Crime Investigation Office sent the NBTC office a list of 41,398 phone numbers responsible for defrauding members of the public.
The Technology Crime Investigation Office sent the NBTC office a list of 41,398 phone numbers responsible for defrauding members of the public.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), in collaboration with the Royal Thai Police, has begun aggressively trying to trace 41,398 phone numbers reported as under suspicion of being used in relation to an offence or by mule SIM cards.

The two agencies will also try to track any fraud carried out since March 17 when the Royal Decree on Cyber Crime Prevention and Suppression came into effect.

The latest move follows the government's policy of handling fraudulent acts in many forms, particularly those conducted via mobile traffic.

According to Pol Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, an NBTC commissioner who is responsible for legal issues, the NBTC office in collaboration with the Royal Thai Police has conducted an investigation and coordinated information requests with mobile service providers to seek call data records of those SIM owners and locations where calls were made, as well as tracing payment information.

The Technology Crime Investigation Office sent the NBTC office a list of phone numbers which were reported via the police online showing that 41,398 numbers were responsible for defrauding members of the public.

Of these numbers, 11,219 numbers were used for sending fraudulent short messages while 30,179 numbers were used as mule SIM cards.

The new Royal Decree is making life more difficult for scammers who now try to deceive people by using increasingly sophisticated tricks.

The law has given victims, banks, and the authorities more options in terms of trying to combat online scams and other illegal online activities.

It allows victims of online scams to immediately file for the suspension of a mule account that has been set up using their stolen identity via 15 banks' hotline numbers and to file a scam complaint with police stations, either physically or online.

The law additionally gives banks the authority to temporarily suspend a suspected mule account and for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to investigate illicit transactions. The law also outlines the punishment of cybercriminals.

The law sentences those who open an account, electronic card, or electronic wallet for illegal use and those who let others use their SIM card for any illegal purpose to 2–5 years imprisonment and/or a 200,000–500,000 baht fine.

In parallel, Pol Gen Nathathorn added that the NBTC is set to impose new regulations by early next year that will require all people who registered for more than five active SIM cards to re-register or verify those SIM cards through the systems of mobile operators' service centres.

The draft of the new regulations will be discussed in focus groups before passing to be approved by the NBTC board by December.

People who hold more than five SIM cards will have to re-register or verify their SIM cards at the operators' service centre within 60 days after the regulation is effective, or their SIM cards will be deactivated.

People who fail to re-register within the first 30 days after enforcement of the regulation will only be able to receive calls but will not be able to make outgoing calls.

According to an NBTC report in September, there were 94.65 million active SIM cards used in the country, held by a total of 64.8 million people.

There were 64.5 million people who held between one and five SIM cards, or a combined 85.1 million SIM cards.

There were 286,148 people holding between six and 100 SIM cards, or a combined 3.33 million SIM cards. There were 7,664 people who each held more than 100 SIM cards, or a combined 6.1 million SIM cards for this group.

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