(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Telecommunications companies (telcos) must work harder in encouraging mobile phone users to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards to avoid the usual cramming when deadline nears.

As of the Jan. 9 data, just over 16 million SIM cards or around 9 percent of 168 million users of the three major telcos have registered, according to Sen. Grace Poe, principal author of Republic Act 11934 or the SIM Registration Act,

“Telcos must ramp up their drive to encourage subscribers to register. No amount of days will be enough if most of the over 100 million phone users will sign up at the last minute,” Poe said in a statement on Tuesday.

The first legislation passed into law in the 19th Congress, RA 11934 requires subscribers to register their SIM cards to help curb phishing attempts, scams and other cybercrime attacks propagated through calls and text messages.

All mobile device users are required to register until April 26, subject to an extension of 120 days by the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

“There’s a learning curve and some growing pains, but many of our countrymen are actually anticipating that they will register soon,” Poe said. “I am just worried that everybody will try to do it at the very last minute, which will bring challenges in handling the traffic of registrants.”

Poe also warned against fake or unauthorized sites that could dupe subscribers into sharing their personal information.

She stressed that registration is free amid reports of assistance to sign up but for a fee.

“We are asking the telcos to keep sending messages or embark on an advertising campaign to continuously remind subscribers of the link to their official websites or other channels of registration,” Poe said.

The implementing rules and regulations task telcos to work with local government units in reaching out to subscribers, especially those in far-flung villages or with physical constraints like disabilities and the elderly. (PNA)