NCC warn Loan apps, telemarketers on illegal use of phone numbers.

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued a stern warning to loan app companies and telemarketers over their unauthorized usage of people’s phone numbers for commercial activities.

The Commission in a public notice released on Thursday, said anyone caught in the act would be arrested and prosecuted.

According to the telecom regulator, using people’s phone numbers without the express permission of the subscribers constitutes a breach of privacy.

It added that the telemarketers are also claiming that they received the numbers from the NCC, and the national database of registered SIMs, which it described as false.

The Notice
NCC in the public notice published on its website stated:
“The attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been drawn to the criminal activities of telemarketers who illegally access the telephone numbers of telecom subscribers for their commercial activities and gains.

“These telemarketers also falsely claim that they obtain telecom consumers’ phone numbers from the Nigerian Communications Commission. Otherwise, they claim that the Commission gave them access to the numbers through the Subscriber ldentity Module (SIM) Registration Database. These claims are not true.

“The Commission fully abides by the principles and rules guiding the protection of privacy as a right of all consumers and users of telecommunications services.

“Therefore, no service provider or telemarketer is authorized to invade, harvest, or use subscriber data in any form or guise without the express approval of the consumer, except otherwise provided by law.

“The protection of the data of telecom subscribers by the Commission is guaranteed in Section 35 (1) of the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, 2007; Section 9 (1) of the Nigerian Communications (Registration of Communications Subscribers) Regulations, 2022; and Section 4.2 (a) &< (b) of the NCC’s Internet Code of Practice.

“Therefore, any telemarketer involved in harvesting telecom subscribers’ phone numbers and other personal details through dishonest means and using such for commercial purposes without regulatory approval is hereby strongly warned to desist from this illegal act, as anyone found guilty shall be arrested and prosecuted in keeping with the law.”

Activate DND
The Commission reminded telecom subscribers to activate the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) Short Code introduced by the NCC to manage their subscription to Value Added Services with the option to stop unsolicited text messages and other telemarketing offers.

This can be done by sending ‘STOP’ to 2442 Short Code for FULL DND.

It also urged telecom consumers, who observe such illegal activities by telemarketers to report such cases to the Commission by calling the NCCToll-Free Number 622 for necessary enforcement actions.

Loan apps and number harvesting
While there are many companies harvesting numbers for marketing, the practice is more common among digital lenders, who by default have access to the contacts of all their customers and use the same to market their loans.

In a recent report How we are forced to disburse loans to people that didn’t apply – Loan app agents – Nairametrics, telesales agents of one of the loan app companies told Nairametrics how each agent is given 300 phone numbers daily to contact for marketing, which are harvested from their customers’ contacts.

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