August 2, 2021

Following torrents of complaints pouring in from consumers in the wake of the menace of call masking/call refiling and SIM boxing which reared their ugly heads in 2017, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, took drastic actions towards addressing the issue.

One of the regulatory actions the Commission took towards curbing the menace of call masking include ensuring 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.

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 and the  Proof of Concept (PoC) commenced in July 2018 with the deployment of technology solutions to monitor, report, apprehend and block SIMs being used for SIM boxing activities and prevent SIM lines from being used for call masking activities.

The above smart interventions generated profound results for the industry. First, by end of 2018, call masking (otherwise called call line identity (CLI) spoofing) had dropped to more than 40 per cent compared to how prevalent it as of January 2018. Also, SIM boxing traffic was down by about 25 per cent as at September, 2 018.

Today, following further enforcement by the Commission for telcos to deploy special technology solution across their networks, cases of call-masking or call refiling, consumer complaints around call-masking has practically come to a halt.

Call masking is when inbound international calls terminate in Nigeria as local number. This raises serious security concerns, competition issues among licensees and portends negative economic implications in terms of losses of appropriate taxes accrued to government through inbound international calls.  In fact, it is estimated that globally, call masking is causing economy $60 billion annually.

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