KAMPALA – One of the positive outcomes of the COVID 19 pandemic was increased usage and dependency on ICTs world over. ICTs supported the continuity of life in society through communication, access to information, transactions, education, work, e- services, among other things.
With increased dependency and usage also came increased levels of fraud in forms of transaction fraud bafere, fraud in the form of misinformation – fake news, Cyberbullying, email fraud. The growth in fraudsters and fake news is global.
The bafere’ s latest trick is calling people and claiming to be Uganda Communications Commission – UCC’ staff seeking to upgrade or verify user’s simcards.
Following this, has on Tuesday categorically emphasize that “UCC NEVER calls consumers for any reason. When in doubt, call our toll-free line 0800 222 777.”
“Telecom companies never call their consumers for any form of verification and or update or upgrade. When in doubt dial 100 and seek clarification.”
We advise the public that should they receive any such call, take the following actions
- Hang up immediately – Do not give the mufere a chance to manipulate you through engagement.
- When it is about your family, hang up ad verify with other sources or members of your family.
- If in doubt, call your provider’s customer helpline – 100 across all networks.
- If you cannot get through to the call center, Call UCC toll free line 0800 222 777
- Report the details of the caller’s (number) to the telcos or UCC immediately for further management.
- Never give out your pin and OTP to anyone for whatever reason. Do NOT and NEVER enter any verification codes. Anyone who calls you on matters pertaining to your simcard verification and or upgrading is a mufere.
According to UCC, some of the vulnerabilities that have enabled the growth in fraud are;
Personal weakness – If you have not been art of any competition, you cannot then be winning anything.
Unverified numbers: Whereas ALL active numbers are registered, some are registered using wrong credentials. We strongly encourage the public to verify the numbers registered using their national ID credentials. Dial *197# and follow the prompts to verify the numbers registered using your National ID credentials. NOTE: When a number registered under your national ID is used to commit a crime, you are culpable.
Unreported stolen phones with simcards. Report to the police immediately when your phone is stolen. This will enable you to get a police report that you can use to block the line.
Unblocked simcards from stolen phones. Follow through by blocking the simcard.
Vulnerabilities in the sim registration and activation process, where bad agents manipulate the process and use your credentials and biometrics to register multiple sims.
Compromised details from different registration points like the books at security checkpoints, meeting registrations, mobile money agent books, we keep signing in at different check points which can be stolen.
What UCC and the telecom operators are doing so far
The regulator says together with the operators are undertaking a massive and continuous public awareness to encourage vigilance and avoid falling prey.
“When you report calls received from bafere, we initiate the investigation of the number. Among other technical undertakings, we look at calling patterns and seek out possible collaboraters”
Accordingly, there are 17 ongoing cases, 11 of which are at the level of Court hearing, 6 still under investigation.
Additional tips on responsible digital behavior
Having Access control on your devices/phone is a must. Have a password, a PIN lock, or pattern. Make it harder for anyone to access and use your device /phone. Frequently update them.
Keep your device OS updated. Keep your installed apps updated. Every time you update the phone engine and apps you strengthen its resilience to hacking and other security-related vulnerabilities. If you cannot update your device, visit the service center for help.
Regular updates provide fixes to possible bugs and security loopholes, along with cleaning up outdated software that may slow down your device
Be cautious when sharing your personal information online. The information you share can be manipulated and used by wrong people. If you must share, limit which people have access to your profile. These settings are available on most platforms.
Verify any information before sharing. If in doubt use the UCC fact-checker on 0760 44 52 56. Not everything on the internet is true.
DO NOT click on unknown links whether in your email or in those shared via WhatsApp of free data or free calling minutes. There are NO free things online.
Remember to LOG out when you use a device or phone that is not yours.
Do not allow your password details to be automatically saved when you use a device that is not yours.
Keep updating your knowledge of your device, and the things going on in ICT. The industry is dynamic, and so should we the users be.
You are your 1st and last line of defense. All other intermediate efforts to keep you safe online are complimentary. The device, the money the information is yours. Keep it safe. Please be vigilant, cautious, and stay alert when gainfully using ICTs.