- Telcos Lament Revenue Loss to Masked Calls
Telecommunications companies in the country on Monday said raised the alarm that they were losing billions of naira in revenue annually to masked calls and blamed the Nigerian Communications Commission for encouraging the act.
Masked calls happen when international calling numbers (Caller Line Identity) are masked as local number traffic. It is a deliberate attempt to avoid paying the accurate International Termination Rate for international calls, as the perpetrators will rather pay the Local Termination Rate.
According to some top executives of the telcos, the NCC has failed to take action on the matter despite they sending several letters to the regulator.
Speaking to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, one of the executives said, “When the number is masked as a local call, the operator pays N3.90 local termination rate and not N24.40 as the international termination rate.”
The source said that masked calls could be linked to Subscriber Identity Module box fraud, “as SIM box fraud is a setup in which fraudsters install SIM boxes with multiple prepaid SIM cards.”
He explained, “The fraudster can bring calls through Voice Over Internet Protocol (through the Internet) and terminate international calls through local phone numbers in the respective country to make it appear as a local call, by initiating a call through a local SIM installed in the SIM box.”
One of the letters sent to the NCC by the telcos in 2016 read in part, “The criminal activities can be stopped by the NCC by investigating and bringing those perpetuating them to book and proclaiming such activities as illegal, threat to national security and a crime.
“It is not the fault of mobile operators, rather the telcos are losing huge revenues. In Nigeria, gateway licensees and clearing houses often perpetrate masked calls. On the other hand, any technically inclined individual can do SIM box fraud.”
When contacted, the NCC said it wrote to the telcos on Monday to stop the act.
The NCC letter, as obtained by our correspondent, read in part, “Due to the serious security and economic implications of this practice, the commission is by this letter giving your organisation a deadline of Friday, July 28, 2017 to ensure that no call masking and call refilling activity takes place on your network.”