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NCC EVC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

Call Masking: How NCC curbs once booming multi-million naira fraud

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Nigeria mobile users now experience notable decrease in the activities of Call Masking, a fraudulent business that results inbound international calls terminates in Nigeria as local number.

 Following the enforcement by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for telecoms operators to deploy technology solution across their networks, cases of call-masking or call refiling has reduced drastically.

When inbound international calls terminate in Nigeria as local number the Commission quickly noticed that this raises security concerns, competition issue and portends negative economic implications. 

The NCC has, since, swung into action; as series of regulatory measures have been taken towards curbing the menace of call masking.  They include strict compliance monitoring and enforcement by the Commission; imposition of appropriate sanctions by the Commission on licensees involved in call refiling and masking activities; and suspension of numbering plans of some perpetrators and withdrawal of all their inactive numbering plans.

According to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, other measures taken in this regard include the continuous sensitisation of consumers and other industry stakeholders on the dangers of call masking, which is still ongoing; the development and institution of new reporting requirements on interconnecting licensees that makes it easy and seamless to quickly identify perpetrators of call masking.

SO far, the technology solutions deployed by the telecoms companies is now helping to monitor, report, apprehend and block SIMs being used for SIM boxing activities and prevent SIM lines from being used for call masking activities. Through the deployment of the technology solutions and continuous monitoring by the Commission for compliance throughout 2019, cases and consumer relating to call-masking has come to zilch.

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Things to know about Call Masking:

  • It is powered by Voice APIs, a coding platform where a developer can set up phone number proxies to keep parties from knowing each other’s phone numbers during a call.
  • It uses a short-lived phone number for each party, for example (6753, 22667). This allows the caller to communicate seamlessly during a specified time period, with no room for the recipient to speak.
  •  It is one of many platforms terrorists use to communicate in an anonymous manner.
  • It is used to disguise as a family, especially for monetary fraudulent motives.
  • It is a method used to evade the international call rates.
  • Call masking amounts to revenue loss for licensed local telecom operators from international calls since such are being disguised as local calls.

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