Group Urges Telcos to Tackle Fraud

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Felicia Onwuegbulam
Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau of NCC, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbulam

Emma Okonji

Worried about the increasing rate of electronic fraud, especially through the use of smartphone devices, the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), which oversees the interests and concerns of consumers of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products and services, has called on telecoms operators to take responsibility of all online thefts perpetrated against telecoms subscribers, and make urgent efforts to nip it in the bud.

Members of ICAF who spoke at the group’s fourth quarter forum in Lagos recently, said since most telecoms subscribers now link their registered SIM cards to their bank accounts, and some of them get swindled and money withdrawn from their bank accounts without their consent and without them knowing until they start receiving debit alerts for transactions they did not initiate, telecoms service providers should be held responsible, alongside the originating bank.

Most of the participants at the forum, narrated their ordeals, how they have been defrauded through their SIM cards that are linked to their bank accounts, and called of telecoms operators and the banks to protect their hard-earned monies.

President, Nigeria Internet Governance Forum, Mrs. Mary Uduma, urged the operators to do more, especially in the area of service quality and protection of consumer rights.

The Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, who represented the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, said: “We believe that through adequate education, information sharing and the provision of an array of channels for redress, we can safeguard all telecom consumers and promote the climate where consumer experience will grow and flourish seamlessly.

Dare said over the years, the telecoms industry has focused efforts on improving customer service.
“To achieve this objective, NCC has rolled out several customer-centric initiatives such as Setting Quality of Service (QoS), Key Performance Indicators (KPls) for all consumer interactions and particularly for the resolution of consumer complaints and escalations; Imposing obligations to eliminate unsolicited SMS with “2442/DND” platform as a reference point; and frontally tackling issues of call masking, “forced” VAS and data subscriptions, among others,” Dare said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently revealed that commercial banks in the country lost a total of N12.06 billion to fraud and forgeries in the first six months of 2018.

The CBN disclosed this in its ‘Draft 2018 Half Year Economic Report’ that was posted on its website.
According to the report, there were 20,768 reported cases of fraud and forgery (attempted and successful), valued at N19.77 billion in the review period, compared with 16,762 cases, involving N5.52 billion and US$ 0.12 million in the corresponding period of 2017.

“The actual loss by banks to fraud and forgery, however, amounted to N12.06 billion, compared with the N0.78 billion and US$0.03 million, suffered in the first half of 2017.

“The reported fraud and forgery incidences were perpetrated by both bank staff and non-bank culprits. The cases involved armed robbery attacks, fraudulent ATM withdrawals, draft defalcation, illegal funds transfer, pilfering of cash, stealing, suppression and conversion of customers’ deposits,” it added.

According to a Director, Consumer Protection, CBN, Mr S.K. Salam-Alade, the high incidence of fraud is usually as a result of weak security infrastructure in financial institutions and insufficient internal controls.
Furthermore, he had attributed the development to the naivety of the average bank customer.

And, apart from the huge financial loss to consumers, financial institutions and the economy, online fraud also damages the financial system’s reputation, increases the risk of participating in its offerings.

This, “threatens the attainment of the financial inclusion target of 20 per cent inclusion by 2020,” the CBN Director said. To combat the problem, he advised financial institutions to invest in the latest security technology solutions and effective communication of anti-fraud measures.

Also, the Head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat, at CBN, Mrs Temitope Akin-Fadeyi, had urged media practitioners to collaborate with financial regulators in the country to educate depositors on financial literacy and inclusion. Akin-Fadeyi, had noted that educating depositors remains a collective responsibility of all.