In just two weeks' time, 12 million mobile phone users in Vietnam may find themselves in need of a new SIM card once the Ministry of Information and Communications deactivates all unregistered and improperly registered SIMs in the country.
In Vietnam, a SIM card must be properly registered at the time of activation with the owner’s correct information, including their name, date of birth and ID number.
However, some SIM card dealerships have defied the law by self-registering cards en masse with fake information and selling the ready-to-use cards for cheap prices with considerable prepaid account balances to customers, particularly foreigners unaware of the registration process.
To combat the use of improperly registered cards, the Ministry of Information and Communications has launched an extensive campaign aimed at deactivating the improperly registered SIMs.
A recent inspection by the ministry found a number of SIM cards registered with false information, including fake names and ID numbers.
Despite the false registration information, the SIM cards still function normally, so users may not be aware they are using an invalid SIM.
According to the ministry, some dealerships either use a single ID to register numerous SIM cards or declare such nonsensical names as “con heo dat” (piggy bank), “happyzone,” and “khong ten” (no name) in the registration.
Using this trick, one dealership was able to register 134,357 new SIM cards each year, with more than 11,000 new users each month.
The ministry’s inspection also found some service providers violating promotion laws by generously ‘gifting’ users balances bigger than those allowed for their new SIM cards, leading to customers taking advantage of the deals to buy SIM cards in bulk in order to send spam SMS and fraudulent messages.
According to data gathered from local mobile carriers, there are some 12 million SIM cards that will be deactivated for violating these laws unless their users re-take the registration process with correct information.
Under a request by the information ministry, mobile carriers have notified users of violations via SMS, requesting that they register their SIM cards or risk losing them within 15 days of the notification.
The warning message may read like this.
In order to check if your SIM card is properly registered or not, send TTTB to the toll-free 1414. This ministry-provided service is available for users of Viettel, Vinaphone and Mobifone, the country’s leading mobile carriers.
This message says the SIM card is properly registered
According to mobile carriers, local users should bring their ID cards, and foreigners, their valid passports, to the nearest official stores of their service providers to complete the registration.