The other day a friend of mine complained to me that the N200 she recharged earlier on was reduced to less than N100 shortly after

What Rat is Eating the Airtime on your Mobile line?

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The other day a friend of mine complained to me that the N200 she recharged earlier on was reduced to less than N100 shortly after she loaded it. She was sure that no one made a call or sent SMS from her phone. She didn’t use the line for anything, but her airtime kept on shrinking! Which rat must have been responsible?

My friend unjustly threw terrible words at the mobile network provider. Unjustly, I say, because I later fixed the airtime thief, and it wasn’t the network. If you have such experience, you can try out these things:

1. Check if you subscribed for any service that auto-renews itself. I mean services like: Callertunes, SIM Backup, and other subscriptions. If you are in such a package as this, quickly turn the auto-renewal off. You may call customer care for more help on this.

2. Make sure your phone does not send unauthorised calls. This may be because of malfunction. I once used a Samsung 1105T that served me well for more than two years and afterward developed the ability to send automatic calls whenever I recharge the battery.

Another cause of this can be that the SEND button sometimes are mistakenly pressed even when the phone is in the bag. I advice those who have experienced this to set their Keypad to Auto lock after some seconds of being idle.

3. The last but not the least is MOBILE INTERNET. Some phones are set to automatically update the system, installed programs and automatically sync the user’s e-mails and social networks. These cost a whole lot of money and sometimes incur unnecessary expenses.

I advice you to turn on this feature ONLY when you are on a large data subscription package or at least when Etisalat and MTN give you that 10+MB on recharge. If not, stay away from this feature. I prefer a manual update in this case. This will connect you to the internet and update your programs only when you command it to do so.

To check your setting or turn off the auto-update and sync, go to your Internet/Connection setting, find where you can turn off Internet/Packet data or set it to WHEN NEEDED. If you are using an Android powered device, go to SETTINGS –> ACCOUNTS AND SYNC then turn off BACKGROUND DATA and AUTO SYNC

I hope that the above tips help you find the culprit if your airtime keeps disappearing from time to time.


  1. Thanks for this timely piece. But the telcos are to blame in part because most times they set their auto renewal as default when you subscribe to any of their services, and this some users don’t know.

  2. It isn’t a rat…..its a cabal 😐

    Coincidentally my Momma came home complaining of this same thing. After nagging for several minutes, a cursory glance showed that her background sync was on. Still, all the apps I installed on her optimus have long since fossilized and the device isn’t even tied to a gmail account so I can’t quite figure out what is zapping her airtime.

    MTN cabal??? *raises questioning eyebrow*

  3. Nice one. Another thing most people have to check is to turn off the ‘refresh’ option in apps such as facebook and twitter especially for BlackBerry subscribers. I used to experience airtime loss until I checked this.

    Once the network moves to edge as against EDGE or 3G, it runs on pay as you go (PAYG) which then zaps your airtime.

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