Stay secure: Update your mobile number to protect your social media and bank accounts

If you have lost your SIM card and got a new one, updating your old number on your social media and bank accounts is crucial. This is because telco companies and banks would still be sending vital information such as One Time Password, OTP and verification codes among others to the old number. That’s because Bhutan Telecom and Tashi Infocomm recycle the deactivated or lost mobile numbers and give them to new customers. Banks and SIM card sellers are increasingly getting complaints related to this issue.

The recycling of a used mobile phone number is done only when the new number range for SIM cards gets exhausted. Telco companies said that this is done to efficiently utilise the number pool.

According to Bhutan Telecom and Tashi Infocomm, social media accounts on Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp are prone to security risks if people do not update their new mobile number.

When the mobile number gets reissued to a new user and if the original user does not delink it from their social media accounts, the new customer might be able to get access to the social media accounts of the old user.

Telco companies recommend people to replace their old mobile numbers with new ones on their social media accounts.

Meanwhile, the mobile shops in Thimphu selling SIM cards have received several complaints regarding the issue of the used number.

“So many customers have been complaining that they get calls from so many strangers. They get calls from the wrong number. They say that we have given them used mobile numbers,” said Bhanu Gurung, a shop owner in Thimphu.

Moreover, not updating the mobile number linked to an individual’s bank account can also be risky, as the new user will have access to the OTP of the account holder.

“When the SIM is reused, the same number which has been used and deactivated is given to the new customer. However, if the customer does not update the new number, the OTP will not be received,” said Yeshi Dorji, another shop owner.

“We use our numbers in offices, banks and even on Facebook. It is risky in terms of our security. Our OTP could be sent and the bank accounts could be misused,” added Bhanu Gurung.

Meanwhile, banks have also received several complaints from customers who receive transaction notifications on their phones after purchasing a new SIM card that was deactivated but not delinked from the old user’s bank account.

However, some banks have started collecting the list of deactivated mobile numbers from Bhutan Telecom to delink such numbers from bank accounts to resolve the issues.

But that alone will not solve the issue, individual customers will still have to update their numbers linked with social media and bank accounts.

Sonam Yuden

Edited by Kipchu

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