Fraudsters commonly referred to as ‘Bafere’ have nowadays become a thorne in the flesh of many a Ugandans. From the elites to the peasant deep in the village, none is being spared and indeed, many have been conned of tens of thousands of their hard earned shillings.
It’s upon this background that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has come out to urge citizens to be more vigilant.
According to Rebecca Mukite, the UCC’s Acting Head of Public and International Relations, the bafere’ s latest trick is calling people and claiming to be UCC’ staff seeking to upgrade or verify user’s simcards.
It is during such engagements,Mukite says that the unsuspecting victims are asked to avail information about them including their mobile money pin numbers which the fraudsters use to fraudulently transact money off the victims’ mobile money accounts!
“We would like to categorically emphasize that UCC NEVER calls consumers for any reason. When in doubt, call our tollfree line 0800 222 777.” Mukite clarified.
As if that is not bad enough, Mukite notes that the fraudsters on many occasions call unsuspecting victims claiming to be working for certain telecom companies. These, she says, call victims asking for forms of verification or upgrade with an intent of accessing the unsuspecting victims’ personal information.
She advised the members of public that should they receive any such call, they should hang up immediately so that they do not give the mufere a chance to manipulate them through engagement.
“Telecom companies never call their consumers for any form of verification and or update or upgrade. When in doubt dial 100 and seek clarification.” she said.
She added that whenever in doubt, they should all always call their telecom service providers or UCC through the provided toll free lines to report for further management.
Mukite also warned the members of public against sharing their pin or entering any verification codes whenever they receive calls from people they do not know.
“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.” Mukite warned.
As part of the plan to curb the vice, Mukite noted that UCC and telecom operators are undertaking 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,” she said
She revealed that so far, there are 17 ongoing cases, 11 of which are at the level of Court hearing and 6 still under investigation.
Detailed Advisory on what to do in case you receive any such call;
•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.
•Some of the vulnerabilities that have enabled the growth in fraud are?
•Personal weakness – If you have not been part 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.