By Ukamaka Augustine/Jessica Dogo
Abuja – The Nigerian Communications Commission( NCC) has assured the general public of its commitment to curb financial fraud through telecommunications platforms.
The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM), NCC, Mr Adeleke Adewolu gave the assurance on Tuesday in Abuja at the 4th quarter 2019 Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) meeting.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was opened to critical stakeholders responsible for combating financial fraud committed through telecommunications platforms.
Adewolu decried the rising trend of electronic fraud across key sectors of the Nigerian economy through electronic banking such as debit Cards, Mobile Money and e-payment systems.
He said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rated e-fraud as the biggest risk in the financial sector, which had widely incorporated electronic payment solutions.
He identified such solutions as Automated Teller Machines (ATMS), Nigeria InterBank Settlement System (NIBBS) Instant Payments and Mobile Banking.
He said that the telecommunications sector was also not immuned from the scourge of cyber fraudsters across the country thus, the need to curb the menace.
“Attackers are now targeting Telecom networks with the intent to disrupt service delivery and infiltrate their data banks.
“Illegal SIM Swaps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) e-payment frauds, are currently some of the most serious cyber threats in the telecom industry.
“fraudsters conduct illegal SIM swaps of targeted individuals and then conduct USSD-based transactions, which cost the unlucky victims huge losses.
“This malevolent use of modem technologies is taking its toll on the Nigerian telecoms industry, as some subscribers have lost huge sums of money to telecom related financial crimes since the emergent use of smartphone technology in the country,” he said.
He, however, noted that NCC was collaborating with relevant stakeholders to protect the interests of consumers by implementing technical and operational solutions to curb the scourge.
“The stakeholders include; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (iCPC) among others.
“Recently, the National Assembly, through the House of Representatives, set up an Adhoc Committee on the increasing incidents of SIM Swap Fraud.
“The NCC, security agencies and other stakeholders were invited by the committee to deliberate on the issue and we discussed various ways of curbing this and other cyber crimes.
“Permit me to emphasise that effective collaboration between government agencies, private organisations and individuals is pivotal in tackling this scourge of electronic fraud.
“A prominent example of this collaboration is the Committee on Electronic Banking Fraud, whose drivers comprise NCC,
Mobile Network Operators (MVOs), Banks, the Nigerian lnter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS), the Wireless Applications Services Providers Association of Nigeria.”
Mrs Felicia Onwwuegbuchulam, Director Consumer Affairs Bureau NCC, described the theme, “Financial Fraud Using Telecoms Platforms What Consumers Need to Know” as apt.
She noted that financial fraud, using telecoms platforms, had been on the front burner for both the financial and telecoms sectors in recent time.
She said that the commission had put in place education of consumers on financial frauds through its various outreach programmes such as and Telecom Consumer Parliament.
Others,she said were, consumer Outreach Programme, Consumer Town Hall Meeting
Elite Enlightenment Programme, Collaboration with various advocacy groups, Participation at Trade Fairs, amongst others.
The director advised that adequate education, information sharing and the provision of an array of channels for redress would safeguard telecom consumers and innovatively promote the prospect for greater consumer Experience.
“The negative implications of such frauds are not only huge in financial losses but also high in reputational damage to telecoms operators, financial institutions, the regulators (NCC and CBN), security agencies and the nation at huge.
“The consumer is one of the major stakeholders in the telecoms industly. It is our desire, as a commission, to ensure that they enjoy primary focus,” she said.
The forum had paper presentations with themes such as ”Detecting Telecommunications Frauds by Understanding the Contents of a Call, Text or Email” and “Data Depletion Causes and Recommendation.”
Mr Ben Anyalenkwe, Managing Director, New Capital Cooperative amongst other stakeholders noted efforts ongoing in promoting cyber security and use of data education.
NAN recalls that the commission held a Stakeholders Forum on Financial Fraud using Telecoms Platforms, Jan.29 and came up with14 far reaching resolutions one of which was that the NCC and all other stakeholders should sign an MOU with the security agencies.