Nigerians have lost about N12.5 billion to financial crimes linked to the telecommunications industry in the past four years, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
Disclosing this during the 2nd quarter of the 2023 Open Forum of the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum organized by NCC in Lagos on Thursday, the commission’s Director of Consumer Affairs, Dr Al-kasim Umar said, “According to some reports, Nigerians have lost about N12.5 billion to financial crimes linked to the telecommunications industry in the past four years.”
Umar added, “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.”
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.
In his keynote address, the Executive Vice Chairman 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 unauthorized 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 telecom operators”, Prof Danbatta said.
To tackle e-fraud and data breaches in the industry, the NCC boss 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.
He said, ” 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 telecom operators and regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute e-fraud perpetrators.”
He urged telecom operators to invest in robust infrastructure, employ state-of-the-art security measures, and conduct regular audits to identify vulnerabilities and address them promptly.