From April 1, consumers can only buy up to three prepaid SIM cards, a sharp reduction from 10 previously, as the Government tightens its security rules.
A central e-registry, which has been in place since 2005, will flag to sellers if a potential buyer already has hit the limit of three SIM cards registered in his name. It is a combined quota across the three local mobile operators - SingTel, StarHub and M1.
However, people who already have more than three prepaid SIM cards get to keep them. A prepaid SIM card has to be used at least once every six months or else the line will be cut off by the local telcos, a current practice.
The new rule comes amid continued use of prepaid SIM cards as an anonymous channel of communications for unlicensed moneylending, scams and gambling, among other illicit activities, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) in a statement late today.
For example, unlicensed moneylending syndicates use prepaid SIM cards to communicate with their members and with debtors.
This is despite a mandatory registration of buyers of prepaid phone cards since November 2005 to stop terrorists from using prepaid cards anonymously.
"This revised limit makes it more onerous for errant dealers to sell prepaid SIM cards that could potentially be used for such illegal activities," according to the statement.
Under the current regime, a subscriber must be at least 15 years old and can subscribe to a maximum of 10 prepaid SIM cards.