Telecommunication users need to be vigilant and on their guard about calls and text messages that are coming into their phones, according to the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC).
The company teamed up with all of the major telecommunication service providers at a press conference last Tuesday to express their concerns over reports that the island national code of “473” were being used by scammers in North America.
The telecom providers briefed the public on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to telecom users and operators because scams at the end of the day can affect customers.
Coordinator of the NTRC, Aldwyn Ferguson told reporters that the scams which were reported in the United States in connection to Grenada’s (473) area code, and are termed the call back scams.
He said it is unknown as to where these calls are being terminated but reports are coming from customers of a service provider in the United States.
He stated that because of the IP based networks that are available now, it is sometimes difficult to determine where a call is being terminated.
“When somebody returns a call in response to those scammers, it is unknown as to where these calls terminate,” he said.
“In other words you think you calling back a Grenada number and hoping that it might terminate in Grenada is not necessarily so”, he added.
However, Ferguson pointed out that those scam activities which are reported in the United States are not affecting customers in Grenada.
He advised local customers to be aware of the scams, which are hitting Grenada’s networks.
These calls and texts are encouraging customers to make high cost international calls advising that they are to receive an important message or win a prize.
One of Grenada’s leading networks, Digicel informed the media that it was not the source of such activity.
“Messages like these are not coming from your network operator and you should ignore them to avoid those high bills associated when you return those calls,” said Country Manager of Digicel, Patricia Maher.
She said Digicel is currently implementing a system to prevent the spread of these fraudulent messages.
“This will reduce the likelihood of customers being defrauded but unfortunately not eliminate it entirely, so customers must remain vigilant,” she added.
Maher stated that “Digicel is trying to find the source of these calls and text messages in an effort to take direct action against these fraudsters and protect Digicel customers against this activity.”
Country manager of Flow, Gail Purcell said, customers need to think before they take action.
“Take a look at messages you’re receiving, pay attention to the details, look at who it’s coming from, do you know this individual, what is the likelihood of this being a very genuine situation and if you don’t know the number maybe you make the choice not to return the call simply because if it so urgent that person will return the call,” she said.
President of Affordable Island Communications, Dave George, who also addressed the media said some of their numbers were mentioned in the news in January as part of the scam but “none of those numbers were assigned to our customers here in Grenada.”
George urged customers to be on their guard as they are still investigating this matter.
Telecommunication/IT Specialist at NTRC, John Gilchrist said fighting cyber crime alone is basically impossible.
He suggested that there is need to establish a computer security and instant response team which will be responsible for collaborating with the service providers in the Eastern Caribbean and throughout the world to develop that collaborative effort to fight against cyber crime.”
He said although cyber crime is an international problem, Grenada is now in the forefront in establishing that type of mechanism