N360bn SMS fraud: Power to stop menace in subscribers’ hands –NCC

The power to stop the menace of fraudulent unsolicited short messaging service (SMS) or text messages, estimated to be robbing telecoms subscribers an estimated N360 billion annually, is in the hand of the consumers, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said. National Association of Telecoms Subscriber (NATCONS), had stated that, following rigorous calculated by the consumer rights body, it has been found that instances of unsolicited SMS cost subscribers over N360 billion annually.

Following this revelation and deluge of complaints from thousands of telecoms consumers regarding how irritating and fraudulent such unsolicited texts have become, the country’s telecoms umpire had, last year, started the implementation of a scheme aimed at curbing the trend.

Under the scheme, a dissatisfied subscriber, owing to the influx of unsolicited text messages on its phone, is empowered to send ‘STOP’ to 2442 on any of the network for immediate stoppage of such trend.

However, many months after introducing the ‘magic code’, subscribers keep complaining that they continue to receive unsolicited SMS from their networks, though not as much as they used to receive before the code was introduced, according to New Telegraph findings.

But having declared 2017 as Year of Telecoms Consumers, meaning the regulator is paying greater attention to issues affecting consumers in the nation’s $68 billion telecoms industry this year, the NCC has again maintained that subscribers could stop unsolicited text messages if they send “STOP” to “2442”. The NCC said this call was part of the on-going campaign to enlighten consumers on their rights to better services. According to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the year of the consumer will focus on two key areas including improving the quality of service, protecting and educating the consumer.

“To address the unsolicited calls received by consumers, the NCC has introduced the Do Not Disturb (DND) facility where consumers are urged to activate the service by dialing “2442”, he said. The EVC also said that consumers should access the customer toll free line by dialing 622 to register their complaints if they do not get such complaints addressed by the network operator.

Subscribers have also been advised to avoid purchasing preregistered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards because of the dangers they portend to the security of our society. “Every SIM card purchased must be registered with the network provider, the NCC declared,” Dambatta said.

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