About a year ago, there was talk about what could have been SIM card swap fraud going on in Uganda. This would be beefed by a statement that was circulating on social media, indicating that someone can hack your SIM card through a mere phone call.
The entire process involves fraudsters replacing the SIM for a mobile number that does not belong to them, allowing them illegitimate access to personal information and accounts of the original user.
The scammers use SIM swap frauds to cancel and re-activate new SIM cards to their names to target bank accounts or any other money transfer services. They can also access your call logs, text messages, online accounts, including email and all social media accounts.
The Uganda Communications Commission issued a statement, explaining how SIM card hacking occurs while also calming down the minds of citizens that for someone to hack into your SIM card they have to first access it.
How to keep your SIM card safe and secure in 2020
As the year begins, the commission has listed some measures to ensure that you have your card kept safe and secure.
- Establish how many SIM cards are registered using your National Identification Number (NIN) by pressing *197#, and after that demanding that any number(s) you are not associated with is blocked immediately.
- The Uganda Communications Commission also issued guidelines on the issuance, sale, swap and registration of SIM cards in Uganda, and a directive for operators to implement a verification mechanism using Short Code 197.
- Street vendors and agents are not allowed to swap SIM cards in case of loss or damage. Do not buy a card from them.
- It is important to note that SIM cards are ONLY issued upon the production of a valid original National Identity Card for Ugandan nationals. That means duplication only arises where a National ID holder is present, and part of the process as fingerprint biometrics MUST be matched.
- The telecoms are required to ensure that all particulars of the applicant, upon revalidation and issuance of SIM cards, match the information on the National Identity Card.
- Foreigners can ONLY be allowed to purchase a SIM card upon presentation of their original passport with a valid entry visa. For foreigners from the East African Community, where no visa is required, the applicant MUST provide information about the duration of their stay as indicated in the passport or travel document.
- Applicants who lost or misplaced their SIM cards must submit, together with their National ID or NIRA letter, an original Police document stating their case.