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Cybersafety: NCC alerts telecoms consumers to increasing e-frauds in ecosystem

*The Nigerian Communications Commission warns telecoms consumers to be vigilant, especially on their financial transactions regarding the reported rising trend of cybercrimes across digital platforms in key sectors of the country’s economy

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Concerned about the increasing cases of electronic frauds perpetrated on telecoms platforms, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has cautioned consumers against falling victim to the rising trend of cybercrimes across digital platforms in key sectors of the Nigerian economy.

ConsumerConnect learnt Mr. Alkasim Umar, Director of Consumer Protection and Advocacy Unit, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, issued the warning at a recent sensitisation programme in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.

File Photo of ‘Shine Your Eyes-No Fall Mugu’  consumer sensitisation roadshow in Benin City, Edo State

Umar, at the enlightenment programme tagged: ‘Shine Your Eyes-No Fall Mugu’, disclosed as part of the strategy to actualise the protection and promotion of consumers’ interest in the telecoms ecosystem, the CAB collaborates with Consumer Advocacy Groups, and relevant stakeholders to empower telecoms consumers with the knowledge while advocating their protection within the telecoms sector of the economy.

The NCC Director of Consumer Protection and Advocacy Unit, represented at the event  by Clems Omeife, Head of Consumer Advocacy and Production Unit, said the development and deployment of robust infrastructure to support innovative technologies and services had positively transformed the West African country’s socio-economic space.

“As the telecoms industry evolves, there is a growing concern over the rising trend of fraud perpetuated on telecom platform (electronic fraud) across key sectors of the Nigerian economy.

“The menace that follows the wide acceptance of new methods of mobile money electronic banking and payment systems has been discovered to cost the country a whopping amount of money,” Umar stated.

The CAB Chief also disclosed that “cybercriminals are targeting telecoms networks, interrupting service provision and accessing bank data. “Victims are often left with enormous losses from SIM swaps and USSD e-payment frauds.”

Umar as well explained: “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has identified electronic fraud as the biggest risk to the sector, which has embraced a range of electronic payment solutions, including Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS), instant payment as well as mobile banking.

“A lot of people are highly ignorant of how losing their phones to fraudsters can lead to a complete clean-up of their bank accounts.”

He further said: “These fraudsters do this by stealing victims’ identities, names, addresses, and bank information, which they use to gain access to their bank accounts.

“They also use the stolen identity to defraud other people and even apply for loans, leaving the victim with debts.”

Measures to protect yourself against e-fraudsters, others

As part of the Commission’s consumer protection initiatives and programmes, Umar noted in view of this development in the industry, and in line with the Commission’s consumer-centric approach, the NCC is collaborating with relevant advocacy groups to organise sensitisation programme tagged: ‘Shine Your Eyes, No Fall Mugu’ across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

According to him, the telecoms sector regulator has also collaborated with critical stakeholders, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Force, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and other relevant agencies in the fight against e-banking fraudsters in the country’s digital space.

The Commission, therefore, advised telecoms consumers to be vigilant in respect of their financial transactions on the telecoms platforms.

Umar stated that frauds can occur through various channels, including unsolicited text messages (SMS), voice calls, e-mails, and fake mobile applications.

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