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NCC steps up consumers’ protection against financial frauds

In view of jumping scourge of financial frauds through cyber attacks and digital maneuverings carried out by internet criminals, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has intensified regulatory efforts towards protecting the interests of telecoms consumers using its multi-sectoral collaboration approach.

The Commission demonstrated this at the 2019 fourth quarter Open Forum of the NCC’s Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) in Abuja recently.

The forum was well attended by institutional members of ICAF, stakeholders from the telecoms/ financial sectors; law enforcement agencies as well as consumer advocacy groups all of whom were convened by the Commission to deliberate on financial frauds using the telecoms platform and what consumers need to know to be protected.

The forum provided opportunities for stakeholders to copiously examined and address criminal acts of using telecoms platform for financial frauds with stakeholders calling on banks and telcos to step up measures to create robust awareness for their customers using telecoms platforms to carry out financial transactions.

Addressing participants at the forum, Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, said there has been growing concern over the rising trend of electric frauds across key sectors of the Nigerian economy with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rating e-fraud as the biggest risk on the financial sector where the using of e-channels to conduct financial transactions has become the order of the day.

He said telecoms sector is not immune to the scourge of electronic-related frauds, as attackers now target telecoms networks with the intent to disrupt service delivery and infiltrate their data banks.

“Illegal subscriber identification module (SIM) swaps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) e-payment frauds, are currently some of the most serious cyber threat in the telecoms industry/ Fraudsters conduct illegal SIM swap of targeted individuals and then, conduct USSD-based transactions which cost the unlucky victims huge losses,” he said.

He said while this has been the situation, the NCC, in dealing with the menace and in line with its fundamental regulatory responsibilities of protecting the interest of consumers, has been working closely with other stakeholder to implement technical and operational solutions to financial fraud using telecoms platforms.

“Just as we have demonstrated through ICAF, the NCC has embraced a multi-sectoral synergy to harmonise the activities of critical stakeholders responsible for combating financial fraud committed through telecoms platforms and we will continue to strengthen this,” he added.

Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, who listed the various efforts the “Commission has been taking in protecting telecoms consumers said it is the NCC’s conviction that through adequate education, information sharing and provision of an array of channels of redress, we can safeguard telecom consumers and innovatively promote the prospect for greater consumer experience.”

Ben Anyalenkwe, Lead paper presenter at the forum and as well as other stakeholders came up with a communique that contains a list of action points to be implemented by the telcos, banks, regulators, consumer advocacy bodies, law enforcement agencies, consumers as well as other institutions that are connected to taking concrete steps at mitigating cases of financial frauds using telecoms networks in Nigeria.