By Ngozi Onyeakusi — The Nigerian Communications Commission has said that it toughened the process of replacing SIM cards in order to stop fraudulent use of mobile lines to steal from subscribers bank accounts.

The Director of Zonal Operations, Mrs. Amina Shehu, said this at a Consumer Conversation Programme held by the commission in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

Represented by a Principal Manager in Zonal Operations, Mr Ekisola Oladisun, Shehu, explained that it became necessary to review and make the process of replacing lost, stolen or damaged SIM cards more stringent to prevent those who swap SIM cards for fraudulent purposes.

She said that the regulatory agency had found that at times a subscriber may be having issues with their phone number, thinking that it was a network issue but by the time they discovered what was happening, money had been fraudulently taken out of their bank account.

Shehu said SIM swap or replacement fraud had a lot of issues attached to it because, often times, a lot of people who were not the owners of some numbers go to do SIM swap at various customer centres of the service providers.

The NCC helmsman said, “There have been cases of fraudulent activities done on people’s bank accounts as a result of SIM swap and the victims often complain to the commission expecting that the NCC would compensate them.

“To stop this SIM swap fraud, the commission in 2017 developed ‘Guidelines on SIM Replacement’, which sets water-tight rules for telecoms consumers to replace their SIM card when there is a need for it.

“The guidelines set stringent conditions which require that consumers identify themselves properly before replacing lost SIM. This is to ensure that telecoms subscribers are well protected from becoming victims of SIM swap fraud.”

She said that the commission had noted that there was the likelihood by subscribers to think that network providers were putting them through stress to have their SIM replaced, by asking them to bring court affidavit, national identification card (or other valid IDs), SIM pack, amongst other requirements.

Explaining further, Shehu said, “What telecoms consumers should know is that they must appreciate the fact that all the information being required from them is to establish that anybody coming for SIM swap proves that the number that is being requested to be swapped belongs to him/her.”

She urged the consumers to immediately report to their respect bank to block their accounts once they lose SIMs that linked with their bank accounts.