The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has again explained to telecoms consumers on why it reviewed and made the process of replacing lost, stolen or damaged Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards more stringent.
The Commission made the clarification while addressing various service-related concerns and issues raised by telecoms consumers during a Consumer Conversation Programme (CCP) hosted by the Commission in Lafia, Nasarawa State at the weekend.
The CCP is designed by the Commission to engage telecoms consumers and educate them on the various consumer-centric initiatives put in place by the Commission to protect their rights and interests while also serving as a feedback mechanism to address consumer concerns.
Speaking at the event, Director, Zonal Operations Department of NCC, Mrs. Amina Shehu, said the Commission has found that, at times, a subscriber may be having issues with his or her phone number, thinking that it is a network issue, but by the time he or she discovers what is happening, money has been fraudulently taken out of his or her bank account.
Shehu, who was represented at the forum by a Principal Manager in the Zonal Operations, Mr. Ekisola Oladisun, said SIM swap or replacement fraud has a lot of issues attached to it because, often times, a lot of people who are not the owners of some numbers go to do SIM swap at various customer centres of the service providers.
“There have been cases of fraudulent activities done on people’s bank accounts, as a result of SIM swap and the victims often complain to the Commission expecting that the NCC would compensate them!
“To stop this SIM swap fraud, the Commission in 2017 developed ‘Guidelines on SIM Replacement’, which sets water-tight rules for telecoms consumers to replace their SIM card when there is a need for it. The Guidelines sets stringent conditions which require that consumers identify themselves properly before replacing lost SIM. This is to ensure that telecoms subscribers are well protected from being victims of SIM swap fraud,” she said.
She stated that the Commission has noted that there is the likelihood by subscribers to think that network providers are putting them through stress to have their SIM replaced, by asking them to bring court affidavit, national identification card (or other valid IDs), SIM pack, amongst other requirements.
“But what telecoms consumers should know is that they must appreciate the fact that all the information being required from them is to establish that anybody coming for SIM swap proves that the number that is being requested to be swapped belongs to him/her,” she said, urging the consumers to immediately report to their respect bank to block their accounts once they lose SIMs that linked with their bank accounts.
At the forum attended by leaders of the communities, trade associations connected to telecoms business, women groups, communications professionals, telecoms service providers as well as representatives of security agencies in Lafia, the Commission also enlightened the consumers on other initiatives of the Commission aimed at protecting the consumers.
These include the activation of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code to curb unsolicited text messages, the NCC toll-free line 622 which consumer can utilise to report complains pertaining to unresolved issues with service providers to the Commission, quality of service issues, billing issues, mobile number portability (MNP) as well as issues revolving around data descriptions and renewals.
Shehu urged the consumers who attended the event “to be ambassadors of the Commission by helping to pass the information and education they have received at the event to other telecoms consumers who may not be aware of such consumer-centric initiatives.”