THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe should remove all unregistered SIM cards from the network to avoid mobile money fraud, which is on the rise, says Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Denford Mutashu.
Mutashu said SIM cards with incomplete registration were increasingly being used for fraudulent transactions.
“Fraudsters have become sophisticated and innovative at exploring loopholes in controls implemented by merchants, banks and consumers,” said Mutashu at a mobile money and digital payments conference last week.
Some of the SIM cards are sold on the black market and registered under names randomly picked from service providers’ data bases and without the knowledge of the name bearers, Mutashu alleged.
“The most common schemes are fake SMS promotions wherein mobile-money users are promised a reward, residential stands among other prices after they send money to certain numbers. At times, agents are called using fake numbers so that fraudsters get access to funds and PIN numbers. There are also insider incidents,” said Mutashu.
Zimbabwe’s growing mobile money and plastic money usage has generally opened new targets for cyber criminals.
Instead of targeting banks, cyber criminals are now routinely targeting payment systems and mobile money service providers to access bank systems.
The total value of mobile and internet based transactions stood at $1,56 billion in May 2017, up from $1,13 billion in April 2017, central bank data shows.
An unregistered line costs between 50c and $1 at retail outlets and dealers.
Statutory Instrument 142 of 2013, issued in terms of the Post and Telecommunications Act, requires all cellphone users to register their lines to curb criminal abuse of mobile telephones.
SIM card registration scams involve employees from mobile telecommunication networks who register the lines using false identities.
In 2015, Econet Wireless disconnected at least one million mobile subscribers with unregistered SIM cards in one week. The company encouraged customers to register their SIM cards.
Mutashu also said automated teller machine (ATM) card cloning or card skimming was on the rise in the country.
“Card cloning is relatively new in the country, but on (the) rise. This occurs when individuals leave their ATM cards with bank tellers and till operators who, in turn, connive with fraudsters to duplicate their cards. Criminal elements take advantage of such situations to make copies of the cards, containing data that is similar to the original, which they use to make purchases or cash withdrawals,” said Mutashu.