From Chinedu Nwafor, Abakaliki
The Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) has cautioned traders and people of Ebonyi state to be wary of cyber criminals at all times in order not to fall victim.
The Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Commission, Umar Alkassin made the call on Wednesday during an Advocacy and Sensitisation Programme organised by the Commission at the Margaret Umahi International Market with the theme, ‘Shine Your Eyes-No Fall Mugu’.
Alkassin urged the people to be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true as it might be attempts to defraud them of their hard earned money.
Represented by Clem Omeife, Head of Consumer Protection and Advocacy Unit, Mr Alkassin explained that the programme is a deliberate and intentional advocacy initiative on consumer protection through sensitization and awareness on how to avoid falling prey of fraudsters.
He regretted that as the telecom industry evolves, there is a growing concern over the rising trend of fraud perpetuated on telecom platform (electronic fraud) across key sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“The menace which follows wide acceptance of new methods of mobile money electronic banking, and payment systems has been discovered to cost the country whopping sums of money.
“Cyber criminals are targeting telecoms networks, interrupting service provision and accessing bank data. Victims are often left with enormous losses from SIM swaps and USSD e-payment frauds.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has identified electronic fraud as the biggest risk to the sector, which has embraced a range of electronic payment solutions, including Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS) Instant Payment, and mobile banking”, he said.
He, however, noted that the development and deployment of robust infrastructure to support innovative technologies and services have no doubt positively transformed the country’s socio-economic space.
“Today, telecom consumers are enjoying broadband and other services driven by the quest to establish a digital economy.”
He further noted that a lot of people were highly ignorant of how losing their phones to fraudsters could lead to a complete clean-up of their bank accounts.
“These fraudsters do this by stealing victims’ identities; names, addresses, and bank information which they use to gain access to their bank accounts.
“They also use the stolen identity to defraud other people and even apply for loans, leaving the victim with debts”, he said.
Representative of the Consumer Protection Unit of CBN, Mr Chinedu Kama in his remarks urged traders not to release goods to customers paying with cheques until the cheque is cleared.
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Markets Development and Parks, Prof Nwogo Ajuka Obasi in his speech promised that the state government would work with the stakeholders of the telecoms industry to develop and enforce stricter regulations and guidelines to protect business against financial fraud in the State.