Monday Dec 5, 2022
Monday Dec 5, 2022

Risk of recycled sim increased in Nepal

2022 Aug 23, 13:34,
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The risk of recycled sim in Nepal is increasing day by day. There are lots of complaints regarding the call fraud and hassles arose due to the recycled sim. The original sim card holder or the new sim card holder, both the parties are at the risk because of this provision. Usually, ncell and ntc both these major telecom companies of Nepal recycle the sim cards if it is expired or remain unused by the original registered person. 

The postpaid SIM card number of Nepal Telecom, which was taken by Vishal Dahal of Ilam seven years ago who remained outside Nepal for a year, and Telecom sold it to others. That is why he is under stress now.

He complains that because the same number is kept in the Facebook and Instagram account for security, there are repeated login attempts from it. Dahal's relatives are also receiving unnecessary calls from the same number. Since the same number is kept in the bank account, the SMS after the transaction is also going to the same number. Now strangers have automatic access to such secret details of Dahal.

Samir Singh Kapali from Kathmandu did not get access to Facebook after opening it by keeping his Ncell number. After not recharging for a year, he came to know that the number was sold to others. He came to know about this only after his previous attempts to use the One Time Password (OTP) to use Facebook failed.

Atulraj Pandey of Kathmandu also does not have access to the eSewa account opened using Ncell SIM. When he found out that his SIM card was used by someone else, he immediately contacted the bank and asked them not to link the account with that number, but he is still afraid that someone else will access the personal details he has stored in Esewa.

These are examples of the risks caused by recycling a SIM card that has been inactive for a year. Thousands of users are now at risk when telecommunication service providers recycle SIM cards and sell them. Not only that, those who buy SIM cards that have been recycled have also had to face the same problem. New users also have to face unnecessary hassles with birthday wishes SMS sent by the bank in the name of the previous person, phone calls from relatives and various kinds of messages.

The policy of the regulator Nepal Telecommunication Authority has become a means of providing easy access to highly sensitive information related to personal privacy. The negative impact of the authority's policy that SIM cards that have not been used for six months can be deactivated and the service providers can 'recycle' and sell them after one year, is currently being borne by the users.

Recently, mobile numbers have been made mandatory for sensitive government IDs such as passports, citizenships, national identity cards, and citizen apps, so users say that the policy of selling them after one year could be a bigger risk. "With such an arrangement, it will become a situation that someone else will have easy access to the important documents of a person such as passport, identity card tomorrow," said Dahal.

Advocate Praveen Subedi also says that since it is a matter related to personal privacy, information should be given before selling the SIM card. He said, "If there is a system to inform the number of SIM cards that have reached the time of recycling by issuing a public notice, the problems seen now can be solved and the service provider will not be blamed for it."

The Nepal Telecommunication Authority had arranged that the service provider can deactivate SIM cards that have not been used for six months on 2nd Chait 2071. Later, in August 2077, the provision was further amended and it was arranged that inactive SIM cards cannot be sold for one year and after that time, the service provider can sell them. Service providers say that SIM cards are sold using this arrangement of the authority.

The spokesperson of Nepal Telecom, Sobhan Adhikari, said that the SIM card has been brought back into use as per the regulations made by the regulator. "After a year of not using the SIM card, it is understood that the user has switched to another option," he said.

With regard to Nepal Telecom, more problems have been seen with postpaid SIM cards. Since the credit period of postpaid SIM is only one year, the SIM card is sold by Telecom one year after the balance becomes zero, but in case of prepaid SIM card, the credit period is up to two years. Spokesperson of Telecom said that the regulator is ready to make any changes in the current system accordingly.

Ncell has also said that it has used the practice of selling SIM again in accordance with the regulations of the regulator. In an email conversation with Gorkhapatra, Ncell said that to solve the current problem, even if the SIM card is not used, if there is a main balance, the SIM card can be extended for a thousand days. The regulator has a different rationale behind implementing such a system. Purushottam Khanal, chairman of the Authority, says that since SIM numbers have to be arranged for Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (MToM) communications, this arrangement has been made to manage the available number when the number is low.

"Issuing a new number just because a problem has been noticed is not a solution," he said. He said that increasing the time allowed to recycle the SIM card will not solve the problem as the six months have been turned into a year after the increase in user complaints. He says that since SIM card recycling is an international practice, the prevailing system has also been implemented in Nepal. When changing the SIM card or not using it for a long time

He suggests that if there is a situation, it is advisable not to link the accounts with the said number. 


Nepal Telecom Ncell recycled sim identity theft
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