In a move to neutralise conmen who masquerade as staff of telecom companies and deceive customers that they have won unspecified prizes, telecoms have introduced dedicated phone numbers to call their customers whenever they need to reach them.
Speaking at an event to mark World Consumer Rights Day on Monday, Ms. Dorcus M. Batwala, the General Manager Customer Experience at MTN Uganda, said her company was set to begin popularising 0312120000 as their phone number for calling customers.
Airtel Uganda’s Denis Kakonge said theirs would be 0752600222.
Ms. Kaggwa Sewankambo, Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director, described technology as a double-edged sword which, despite its obvious advantages, can be abused to the detriment of the consumer.
“Therefore, there is a need to mitigate the negative impact of unhealthy technology use by empowering consumers of digital services to make safe and healthy choices,” she said.
Sometimes the callers claim to be UCC staff, threatening to deregister customers’ phone lines unless they do as instructed.
Customers who fail to see through the scam often end up losing money to the fraudsters.
Commemorated every March 15, World Consumer Rights Day was this year marked with a multi-stakeholder discussion on Digital Safety at the Uganda Communications Commission Head Office.
First observed in 1983, the World Consumer Rights Day aims to raise awareness about consumer rights, needs, and interests.
During the lively discussion that was moderated by Mr. Henry Kimera of Consumer Education Trust (CONSENT), and drew in participants from UCC’s regional offices, the panellists called on consumers to take charge of their personal digital safety.
Mr. Nyombi Thembo, the UCC acting Director Industry and Consumer Affairs emphasised consumer education, saying ignorance facilitates fraud.
“You can’t win a lottery in which you have not participated,” he said.
Ms. Batwala expressed concern about customers that handle their SIM cards casually, while Mr. Haguma warned against forwarding of online content whose source is unknown.