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Digital Economy: NCC advocates stakeholders’ collective effort to tackle e-fraud, boost consumer confidence

*Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, at the 2nd Quarter 2023 Industry Consumer Advisory Forum in Lagos, urges stakeholders’ action to combat criminal activities that can cause significant financial losses, and erode consumer confidence in the digital ecosystem

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a move to minimise significant financial losses while boosting consumer confidence in the digital ecosystem, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has said combatting e-fraud on telecoms platforms requires a collective effort of all industry stakeholders.

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, stressed this at the 2nd Quarter 2023 Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) held Thursday, June 22, in Lagos.

Danbatta urged telecoms operators, regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies and consumers collaborate, with each fulfilling their responsibilities to tackle e-fraud in the country’s digital space.

The EVC/CEO of the telecoms  regulatory Commission also disclosed that e-fraud embraces a wide range of malicious activities being carried out via electronic means.

Prof. Danbatta noted these include identity theft, phishing, hacking, and unauthorised access to personal and financial information, with the intention to defraud or take advantage of victims.

According to the NCC Chief, these criminal activities might not only cause significant financial losses but also erode consumer confidence in the digital ecosystem.

Nigeria, stated Danbatta , has witnessed remarkable growth in the digital economy, revolutionising the way Nigerians communicated and conducted businesses.

He further emphasised the telecoms sector of the Nigerian economy plays a pivotal role in enabling this digital transformation, providing the infrastructure and connectivity that have enhanced the interconnected world.

Addressing growing e-fraud, cybersecurity concerns

In tackling identified challenges in the system, the EVC/CEO, however, said the advancements recorded on the sector  had come with fresh challenges, including the increasing wave of e-fraud and cybersecurity concerns in the ecosystem.

NCC’s efforts at tackling cybersecurity issues

According to Danbatta, the NCC as the regulator of the communications sector has a crucial role to play in combatting e-fraud.

He as well noted that in order to further protect telecoms consumers, the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) periodically, has alerted consumers to certain latest cybersecurity threats, and urged them on how to avoid falling victim to such threats online.

The NCC Executive Vice-Chairman said: “The NCC also type-approves communications equipment to ensure that they conform to global standards and are interoperable with various relevant technologies.

Need for comprehensive legal frameworks for security practices

Danbatta advocated “we must establish comprehensive legal frameworks and standards that mandate sound security practices for telecom operators.”

He further stressed: “The legal framework must focus on data protection, privacy and incident response, ensuring that operators are held accountable for any lapses in security on their respective networks.”

As part of collective effort at combatting e-fraud, the EVC/CEO of the Commission noted the law enforcement agencies must also collaborate closely with telecoms operators and regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute e-fraud perpetrators.

Enhanced coordination, information sharing, and dedicated cybercrime units, he said, will go a long way in deterring criminals and bringing them to justice.

On digital literacy and consumer protection in ecosystem

Danbatta also noted at the 2nd Quarter 2023 ICAF in Lagos, that combatting e-fraud is not only the responsibility of industry stakeholders and authorities, but equally that of consumers as well.

He stated: “Building consumer awareness and promoting digital literacy is crucial to empowering individuals to protect themselves.

“Telecoms operators should educate their customers about potential risks, provide guidance on secure online practices and offer user-friendly tools to monitor and manage their accounts.”

He as well emphasised the fact that in building consumer confidence in the Nigerian digital economy, Telcos must focus on transparency and accountability in the discharge of their responsibilities.

Danbatta, therefore, urged telecoms operators to be transparent about their security measures, privacy policies, and incident response mechanisms.

Collaboration with third-party security firms and independent audits could also help validate the integrity of telecoms platforms in the Nigerian digital ecosystem, said Danbatta.

He added: “We need to rise to the challenge and build a future where the telecom platform is not only a gateway to the digital world but also a fortress against e-fraud.”

Speaking at the forum, Mr. Alkasim Umar, Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) at NCC, also acknowledged that e-fraud poses a significant threat to the society, as it undermines the trust and confidence in our digital platforms.

Umar, Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) at NCC

Umar noted the menace is also responsible for hampering economic growth, and adversely impacting the lives of telecoms consumers.

The NCC will continue to perform its duty in protecting the interest of consumers, he assured stakeholders.

Mr. Emeka Akpa, Chairman of ICAF, said fraud had escalated as a result of increased digital adoption in the West African country.

Akpa stated the situation requires organisations to simultaneously combat fraud and provide consumers with a seamless digital experience.

The Chairman of ICAF said: “The evolution of fraud threats has undermined the effectiveness of a reactive approach to combating fraud” in the ecosystem.

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