By Chinedu James
To intensify its fight against call masking, call refilling and SIM boxing, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has recently held a strategic meeting in Abuja with the House Committee on Financial Crimes to strengthen its battles against what the commission sees as a serious threat against the industry and the country’s economy.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, call masking has been in existence since September 2016 when the commission reviewed the International Termination Rate (ITR) to N24.40 and up to June, 2017, has increased in folds.
Call masking or refilling or SIM boxing is a practice in which callers hide their true numbers when making calls, especially international calls, in order to evade the international call rates.
Danbatta gave the assurance that the intensity of the recent efforts by authorities in will soon bring an end to the challenge. He said the commission was setting up new monitoring, compliance and enforcements measures.
The Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen in his presentation to the committee highlighted some strategies by the regulator to address the problems.
Part of the commission’s plan includes an enforcement of the issuance of direction to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to employ every technical means to prevent their network being used for call masking and SIM boxing activities. The Legal and Regulatory Services Department of the commission has been charged to work on the issuance.
The commission through the Public Affairs and Consumer Affairs Bureau Departments will deepen awareness through available channels on NCC’s actions against the crime. Stakeholders will also buy-in and records of Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDN) will be used for further investigation and enforcement actions.
He added that there will be a continuous process of compliance, monitoring and enforcement activities to detect victims of call masking and enhanced investigation will be carried out on channels used for the illegality.
In the same vein, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at the NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare stated that the NCC remains “committed and driven by its mandate to protecting, informing and educating all telecom subscribers in Nigeria through various ways and sooner the commission will fish out the culprits involved in this phenomenon of call masking, refilling and SIM boxing.
Earlier this month, the NCC in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), at the instance of the National Assembly, set up a joint investigation team to track call masking and refilling.