NCC probes Telcos over illegal data depletion, mulls compensation



By Chukwuemeka Emmanuel

In continuation of its regulatory mandate, the Nigerians Communications Commission, NCC has commenced a forensic audit against cases of data depletion and wrong deductions of consumers’ credit.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, dropped the hint when he received Man of the Year 2020 Award from MoneyReport magazine in Abuja.

The EVC said the Commission had already tightened the noose against cases of all illegal data depletion and wrong deductions of consumers’ credit through the ongoing forensic audit instituted to ensure maximum protection for consumers, insisting that despite the fall in data price, that forensic audit must go on and must be concluded and the outcome communicated to the CEOs of telecom companies”.

The EVC said while consumer protection remains a key focus area of the Commission’s regulatory activities, it has accomplished significant improvements in this direction through various initiatives aimed at putting mobile operators on their toes to be more consumer-centric.

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He said through the ongoing forensic audit, the Commission plans “to get to the bottom of why consumers are experiencing data depletion and the possibility of compensating them for wrong deductions, which may arise from short message service (SMS).”

“We have instituted and we have insisted that despite the fall in data price, that forensic audit must go on and must be concluded and the outcome communicated to the CEOs of telecom companies”, Danbatta said.

While appealing to Nigerians to wait for the outcome of the ongoing forensic audit, Danbatta said operators will be made to comply with whatever directions are given after the investigation with a view to ensuring maximum protection for telecom consumers.

He, however, noted that the Commission has developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on data depletion, which are designed to inform consumers on activities that may result in faster depletion of their data as well as enlighten them on measures to mitigate such. The FAQs are accessible from the Commission’s website.

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‘‘Over the years, the NCC has given boost to consumer protection empowerment through sustained awareness creation and education on consumer rights and privileges. It was for this reason that the Commission declared the year 2016 as the ‘Year of the Consumer’ with elaborate programmes to further underscore the NCC’s commitment to consumer protection, information and education.

‘‘The Commission has intensified its compliance monitoring exercises with the acquisition of efficient tools and capacities to bring sanity in the industry all in a bid to improve the quality of consumer experience.

‘‘ Among several initiatives, Danbatta said the introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) has helped over 30 million consumers to block unsolicited text messages on their phones while stern regulatory actions are constantly taken by the regulator against any operator that prevents a consumer from subscribing to the DND service.’’

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The EVC also said the Commission launched the 622 Toll-free Number, which consumer can use to lodge and escalate service-related complaints to the Commission for resolution, stating that thousands of complaints have been successfully resolved since its introduction.

He restated the Commission’s commitment to the protection and empowerment of telecom consumers using the over 208 million active telephone lines in the country, as according to him, consumers remain critical stakeholders in the Nigerian telecommunications sector and so must be adequately protected to ensure sustainability.

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