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Sun, Aug 20, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Pirated IDs used to apply for mobile phone numbers

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thousands of people across Taiwan are being sent telephone bills demanding they pay for calls the recipients did not make, a legislator revealed yesterday.

At a press conference held by People First Party Legislator Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容) yesterday, it was revealed that the theft of people's identification for the express use of fraudulently obtaining telecommunications services was on the increase.

Chen said that one victim had received a total of 10 phone bills from different telecom companies between April and July. "I was charged up to NT$28,000 in one of the bills," said the victim, identified only by his surname of Liao.

Fortunately, Liao was not made to pay after checking with the telecom companies.

As the procedure to apply for a mobile phone number becomes simpler, the use of phony IDs appears to be on the increase.

According to statistics from the Directorate General of Tele-communications (DGT), the IDs of 8,820 people were pirated in 1999 and used to charge up to NT$96.37 million in phone calls.

Between January and July this year, the number of victims ex-ceeded 10,200 people, and charges have accumulated to NT$72.45 million, statistics show.

A man working for a mobile phone retailer, who was identified only his surname of Wu, confirmed that there were syndicates that cooperated with retailers to profit by selling numbers applied for using pirated identifications.

Wu said while the syndicates would provide the retailers with photocopied identification cards, the retailers would help to apply for mobile phone numbers with various telecom companies.

The numbers, of course, will not get cut off until the victims notify the telecom company.

Wu said some illegal retailers would even guarantee that their numbers last up to three months.

Huang Wan-fa (黃萬發), a team leader from the telecommunications police squad, said that although some people would buy the numbers due to their cheap prices, up to 99 percent of the people using these numbers were criminals who were trying to evade the police.

Huang said telecom companies should examine an applicant's ID carefully to prevent the misuse of identification by criminals.

Robert Hwang (黃世雄), a senior engineer at the DGT's Public Telecommunications Department, noted that the DGT had revised the regulations governing the mobile telecommunications industry in July to require telecom companies to carefully screen the identification of each applicant.

Telecom companies that fail to do so can face fines of up to NT$3 million, Hwang said.

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