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NCC tackles loan app firms, telemarketers over illegal harvesting of telecoms consumers’ phone numbers, details

*The Nigerian Communications Commission ‘strongly warns’ any telemarketers involved in harvesting and use of telecoms subscribers’ phone numbers and other personal details for commercial purposes without regulatory approval to desist from the illegal act, to avoid arrest and prosecution

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As part of the telecoms regulator’s consumer protection initiatives, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned loan app companies and telemarketers against their unauthorised usage of subscribers’ phone numbers for commercial activities in the economy.

ConsumerConnect reports the Commission issued this caution in a recent  public notice, warning anyone or group caught in the act would be arrested and prosecuted.

The notice stated: “The attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been drawn to the criminal activities of telemarketers who illegally access the telephone numbers of telecom subscribers for their commercial activities and gains.”

The NCC also noted that it considers the use of telecoms consumers’ phone numbers without their express consent to be a violation of privacy.

According to the Commission, the telemarketers’ claims that they obtained such  telecoms subscribers’ numbers from the regulator and the national database of registered Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) were  bogus.

The NCC said: “These telemarketers also falsely claim that they obtain telecoms consumers’ phone numbers from the Nigerian Communications Commission.

“Otherwise, they claim that the Commission gave them access to the numbers through the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Database. These claims are not true.”

Protection of privacy as right of all telecoms consumers

The NCC public notice further noted: “The Commission fully abides by the principles and rules guiding the protection of privacy as a right of all consumers and users of telecommunications services.

“Therefore, no service provider or telemarketer is authorised to invade, harvest, or use subscriber data in any form or guise without the express approval of the consumer, except otherwise provided by law.”

It explained “the protection of the data of telecoms subscribers by the Commission is guaranteed in Section 35 (1) of the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, 2007; Section 9 (1) of the Nigerian Communications (Registration of Communications Subscribers) Regulations, 2022; and Section 4.2 (a) & (b) of the NCC’s Internet Code of Practice.”

How to protect manage your subscription and protect yourself

As a measure to manage their subscriptions, the Commission, however, urged telecoms consumers to use the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) Short Code, which the telecoms sector regulator has issued to manage their subscriptions to Value Added Services, and equally opt out of unsolicited text messages, and other telemarketing pitches.

Subscribers are advised to send the word “STOP” to the short code 2442 for FULL DND to do this via their phones.

The regulator as well urged telecoms consumers who have experienced such unlawful telemarketing practices to report the incidents to the Commission by calling the NCC Toll-Free Number 622 for appropriate enforcement measures can be taken.

The Commission, therefore, restated that “any telemarketer involved in harvesting telecoms subscribers’ phone numbers and other personal details through dishonest means and using such for commercial purposes without regulatory approval is hereby strongly warned to desist from this illegal act, as anyone found guilty shall be arrested and prosecuted in keeping with the law.”

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