The dilemma of Identity theft In Pakistan
With all the terrorism and internal problems faced by us Pakistanis, one could imagine that nothing can add to their qualms. But that wasn’t the case with PTA’s SIM check facility 668. It created a new wave of annoyance for millions of Cellular service subscribers when they found out that their respective identities were misused for issuance of illegal Mobile connections.
Official sources at PTA have revealed that the cellular phone companies have blocked 12.9 million SIMs in two weeks of 668’s launch(Daily News). Data of around 0.813 million subscribers has been rectified by the relevant mobile phone companies so far. PTA officials fear that as Pakistani nationals living abroad would also add to these numbers.
One person one Connection
The numbers are shocking and one can imagine what’s going through the consumers mind. I believe that both consumers and mobile companies are to blame. Consumers need to be more careful when giving away their CNIC copies for buying mobile connection. On the other hand Cellular companies are just out to make money and issuing SIMs without verifying the identity of a person. If they were sincere about the security of their consumers they could have easily set a rule in their system that no user can have more than one mobile connection without giving proper reason, in written to the particular cellular service provider. A simple solution easily ignored by the highly paid telecom professionals. Imagine how many terrorist attacks could have been averted if such rule had been implemented back in 2001.
Response of Mobile Companies- Encounter with ZONG
According to 668 I had one Zong connection, which I never purchased. So I went to Zong Customer care centerlocated opposite liberty round about in Lahore. The level of customer care was dismal. The outlet was overly crowded and poorly staffed. After waiting for 30 minutes, I reached the customer care officer, I only asked him how Zong got hold of my CNIC, the guy had no answer. On my request the floor manager came and he probably was the worst Customer service guy (yes he clearly took lead from that Wateen guy). He straightforwardly said that it’s not his problem that how it happened and blamed me for it, that I must have been careless with my CNIC (which i never am). Then he said that PTA recently put the 789 rule and so any misuse of identity was not Zong’s fault.
From friends I have heard similar encounters from other cellular service providers and it shows that all the bragging from cellular companies about how serious they are about their social responsibility is bogus.
How to Avoid Identity Theft
The gravity of the situation is that, how easy it is to steals someone identity in order to get a mobile connection, and that could easily be used for terrorism and other criminal activities, incrimination an innocent consumer in the process. So as a public service I am giving some key do’s and don’ts while handling your CNIC.
Make these suggestions your habit
- Always cross your CNIC copy for what purpose you are giving it for e.g. if you are buying a mobile connection than include the number you are buying it for.
- Always buy mobile connection from the authorized franchise or the customer service centers of a particular Cellular service.
- If you lose your CNIC immediately get an FIR and notify your bank and your workplace. A timely FIR can save you from lot of potential trouble.
- As per new government rules always keep your CNIC with you but keep a color photocopy at home.
- Constantly check your mobile connection status from PTA website(http://www.pta.gov.pk/668/index.html)
Avoid these blunders at all times
- Don’t buy a mobile connection from shops and PCO’s as they are most likely to misuse your CNIC.
- Don’t give your CNIC uncrossed.
- Don’t scan you CNIC at a Net cafe.
- Don’t give your CNIC copy to insurance or sales people of any kind.
- Don’t leave your CNIC copy here and there in the house. Your servant might be the culprit.
- Don’t give your CNIC information over the phone to anyone.
PS: If you want to know the procedure for cancelling an illegal connection on your name kindly vies the comment section of this post.