India has become the second largest telecom ecosystem in the world with 117 crore subscribers. People use mobile phones for communication, banking, entertainment, government services, and more. It’s important to protect users from various frauds like identity theft, forged KYC, and banking frauds. To help protect users, the Telecom Department has created Sanchar Saathi, a citizen centric portal (https://www.sancharsaathi.gov.in).
At a press conference held by the Department of Telecommunications field unit, Ashok Kumar, Special Director General, Telecom announced that during initial trials, 481973 mobile phones have been blocked and 243875 mobile phones have been traced through the CEIR application available on the Sanchar Saathi Portal. The portal will be operational across India from May 17, 2023 in commemoration of World Telecommunications Day.
Sanchar Saathi empowers citizens to fight against fraudulent activities. It allows users to check connections registered in their names, report fraudulent or unrequired connections, block stolen/lost mobile phones, and check IMEI genuineness before buying a mobile phone. The system has been designed in-house by the Dept. of Telecom and has several modules:
– Centralized Equipment Identity Register (CEIR): If a mobile device is stolen or lost, a user can submit the IMEI numbers on the portal. The information is then verified and the system blocks the stolen mobile phones from being used in Indian networks. If someone tries to use the stolen device, the system allows Law Enforcement Agencies to trace the device.
– Know Your Mobile: It facilitates citizens to check the genuineness of IMEI of their mobile device.
– Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection (TAFCOP): It facilitates a user to check the number of mobile connections taken in her/him name using paper-based documents.
– ASTR (Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition powered Solution for Telecom SIM Subscriber Verification): Mobile connections obtained using fake/ forged documents are then used for cyber-frauds. To curb this, Dept of Telecom has developed AI-powered tool – ASTR to identify SIMs issued using fraudulent/forged documents.
In the first phase, analysis of more than 87 crore mobile connections was carried out, and 40.87 Lakh suspected mobile connections were detected. After due verification of 36.61 Lakh connections, they have already been disconnected. More than 150 FIRs have been lodged across India, and the details of disconnected numbers have been shared with banks, payment wallets, and social media platforms for disengaging these numbers with their accounts.