By Emmanuel Adeleke
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that Nigerians lost about N12.5 billion to financial crimes linked to the telecommunications industry in the past four years.
The commission’s Director of Consumer Affairs, Dr Al-kasim Umar, disclosed this during the the Industry Consumer Advisory Open Forum for the second quarter, organised by NCC in Lagos, on Thursday.
“The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimated that $600 billion is lost to cybercrime each year, an increase from a 2014 study that put global losses at about $445 billion,” Umar said.
The NCC Consumer Affairs boss said e-fraud poses a significant threat to Nigeria, as it undermines the trust and confidence in the country’s digital platforms, hampers economic growth, and adversely impacts the lives of its citizens.
He said as the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing the telecommunications industry, the NCC recognised its duty to safeguard the interests of consumers and protect the digital ecosystem.
Speaking, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, said e-fraud encompasses a wide range of malicious activities carried out via electronic means including identity theft, phishing, hacking, and unauthorised access to personal and financial information, with the intention to defraud or take advantage of victims.
“These criminal activities may not only cause significant financial losses but also erode consumer trust in the digital ecosystem. The NCC as the regulator of the communications sector has a crucial role to play in combatting e-fraud. We must establish comprehensive legal frameworks and standards that mandate sound security practices for telecomd operators,” Danbatta said.
To tackle e-fraud and data breaches in the industry, the EVC said the commission is in the process of developing more elaborate Data Protection Regulations to ensure the protection and privacy of data in the Nigerian communications sector.
“It is important to mention that the Commission has issued the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007, which among other things, provides for the protection of consumer information. Law enforcement agencies must also collaborate closely with telecoms operators and regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute e-fraud perpetrators,” he added.
Danbatta urged telecoms operators to invest in robust infrastructure, employ state-of-the-art security measures and conduct regular audits to identify vulnerabilities and address them promptly.