NCC boss cautions against use of pre-registered SIM cards

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s communications regulatory body, has warned subscribers against the purchase of pre-registered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards, adding that fines and jail terms awaited people caught using such SIM cards as it is a criminal offence.

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Prof Garba Dambatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission said rather than patronise the criminals, the public should report them to law enforcement agencies as part of their responsibility, not only as subscribers but also as good citizens.

Represented at this year’s NCC Day at the Lagos International Trade Fair in Lagos by an Assistant Director and Head, Media, Reuben Muoka, Dambatta also warned subscribers to be wary of substandard and used mobile phones shipped into the country that did not get the type-approval of the NCC.

He said such could compromise the integrity of services received by end users.

He said: “When we talk about consumer interest, we also speak about consumer responsibilities.

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“We expect the consumers and members of the public to also embrace our disposition by assisting the Commission to eradicate some fraudulent activities that exist in the industry, especially those ones that are within their purview of support.

“We are saying this today with regard to instances of use of pre-registered SIM cards in the country. By our regulation, any new number acquired by the subscriber would be unable to originate calls until such a number is registered before it is activated in the network. It also means that any number that is not registered or activated by the service provider would remain inactive in the network.

“However we have a situation where some unscrupulous individuals engage in registering and activating huge number of lines with fraudulent identities with a view to selling them to unwary subscribers who are too busy or too ignorant to understand that they need to have their identities behind their numbers. In some cases, those who engage in these activities are trying to hide their real identities for the purpose of using such lines to perpetrate criminal activities in the society.

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“We are using this opportunity to inform consumers and members of the public to alert security agencies where they find anybody engaging in the sale or use of preregistered SIM cards as they pose a serious danger to our individual and collective safety.  Those found culpable also risk severe penalties of fine an imprisonment. We have also sent serious warnings to the service providers to ensure that their dealers and sub-dealers who have a role to play in the sale of and activation of services, are not culpable in the perpetration of this crime.”

Dambatta also said as the country passes through advance in technologies and as more devices are being introduced into the market, some of these devices have been used and dropped in other parts of the world and some may not even meet with international benchmarks for safety. He advised subscribers to visit the website of the Commission to check for the list of type-approved phones so that they would not be defrauded.

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“Substandard devices are capable of degrading the quality of services available in the networks and also pose serious safety issues to users,” Prof Dambatta said.

He advised subscribers to take advantage of the Do Not Disturb (DND) 2442 code to stay free from unsolicited text messages and also use the toll free number, 622, should their complaints to their service providers fail to be addressed quickly.

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