Just last week, when the court ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria and 19 commercial banks to freeze the bank accounts of customers who had yet to obtain their Bank Verification Number, fraudsters capitalised on this to defraud several bank customers.
Fraudsters, who are claiming to be bank officials, sent text messages and emails to some unsuspecting bank customers asking them to call certain telephone numbers or click on certain links to revalidate their BVN.
Many bank customers fell into this trap despite repeated warnings by banks in the past advising customers never to divulge their personal details to anyone on the phone or via email.
Actually, in the current age of digital banking and Cashless Nigeria drive by the CBN, there are “dos and don’ts’’ every bank customers must know about cashless, mobile, Internet, Automated Teller Machine and USSD banking, among others.
Failure to master these “dos and don’ts’’ has been responsible for the majority of the sad tales of bank customers who were defrauded by Automated Teller Machine fraudsters or Internet banking fraudsters, as you may call them.
Sometimes, cases of fraud could be traced to insider collaborators within the banking system.
But most times, the fraud cases were caused by compromise and ignorance on the part of the affected bank customers.
Some of such customers, at times, put their stories on the social media and the newspaper to draw sympathy from the public.
They often do this in an attempt to force the bank to refund the money stolen by the fraudsters.
The truth is that, once a commercial bank investigation showed that the customers compromised their banking details to the fraudsters, they would not make a refund, regardless of whatever cheap blackmail they employed through the social or traditional media.
There is therefore a need to educate bank customers in this forum again, on why they should always protect their personal banking details and be conversant with the dos and don’ts of digital banking.
A few weeks ago, the Bankers Committee, comprising the CBN and all the commercial banks in the country, agreed to launch a massive awareness campaign to educate customers against the activities of fraudsters, which according to the committee, usually increase in ‘ember months’.
While this is yet to begin, this article will touch on some tips for safe banking in the digital era.
Online banking on your smartphone
If you live life on the move, online banking on your smartphone can seem like an ideal way to keep track of your finances and make your banking easier.
But is it a safe way to manage your money? Some banks, using your smartphone, provide you – and anyone who accesses your phone – with direct access to your bank accounts.
Most banks provide apps that let you manage your money through your smartphone. Others only allow smartphone users to log into a full version of their Internet banking site.
According to www.money.co.uk, here is everything you need to know about banking on your smartphone.
Some dedicated mobile banking apps also enables you to send money to existing recipients you have set up using the bank’s online service. This means you can send money out of your account to pre-authorised recipients, but not to any bank account.
Using you smartphone to access the online banking facility on your bank’s website lets you perform the same functions as if you were logging onto your personal computer in your living room.
While this opens you up to some risks, it does provide you with easier access to your account and means that should you fall victim, you will be quicker to spot any fraudulent transactions and report them.
If you take the necessary security measures, there is no reason to think that banking via your smartphone is any less secure than any other means of accessing your accounts, according to experts.
Making online banking on smartphones safer
Should your smartphone be stolen or lost, contact your mobile network provider as soon as possible. They can help to block the phone and make it unusable.
As long as your pass-code or log in details is still secure, then, whoever has your phone will not be able to access your mobile banking.
According to www.money.co.uk, to reduce your chances of falling victim to fraud when you bank online through your smartphone, you should:
- Only download mobile applications directly from your bank; they are free to use and you can download without any reservations about the software.
- Download any free security software provided by the bank.
- Install quality security software. Often, if you have it installed, there is a remote deletion option, which means you can delete any data stored on the phone if you discover it is lost or stolen.
- Set up your smartphone to be more secure. Use a PIN or password to lock your phone when you are not using it.
- Make sure your phone’s browser does not automatically input your passwords or usernames for you.
- Switch off the Bluetooth function on your mobile when it is not in use. This will stop any unmonitored wireless activity on your phone. You can take this further and avoid accessing your bank accounts from public networks, if you are happy to restrict where you log on.
- Delete any text messages from your bank when no longer needed so that any information they have sent to you is not sat in your inbox.
Things you need to do to protect your online banking:
- Use a strong password. According to www.pcmag.com, it probably doesn’t matter if someone else gains unauthorised access to your password. You may have to do some damage control and explain that you didn’t actually post those nasty messages. But a malefactor who cracks or guesses your online banking password can drain your account dry. If you memorise just one strong password, make it your online banking password.
- Use a password manager. In the real world, you probably have more than one online financial account. Rather than strain your brain memorising the hard-to-crack passwords for each of them, enlist the help of a password manager.
- Enable two-factor authentication. Check with your bank to see if its online banking site supports two-factor authentication. With some banks, you can register your smartphone for authentication. Each time you log in, the site texts you a code that you must enter in addition to your password. Other banks may issue you a security token with an ever-changing code. To log in, you enter your password and the current code displayed on the token. Whatever form of two-factor authentication your bank offers, take advantage of it.
Common ATM scams you need to avoid
With over 15,000 Automated Teller Machines in Nigeria and 1.5 million around the world, most of us simply take our ATM cards (debit and credit cards) for granted. Unfortunately, thieves know this and use it to their advantage; so ATM card theft is a big problem.
In fact, as the ATM banking technology advances so too do the thieves.
They have become so clever in their crimes that you may well not see them coming. The good news is that there are easy ways to protect you from ATM theft.
According to www.allclearid.com, here are five common ATM theft scams you need to avoid
Skimmers are devices added to ATM machines to capture your card’s information, including your account number, balance and PIN. These devices, often mounted alongside a machine and labelled ‘card cleaners,’ are difficult to notice unless you are looking for them. The good news is that the CBN has asked Nigerian banks to install anti-skimming device on their ATMs. However, we don’t know how many banks have complied.
Shoulder surfing and fake PIN pads
Another way to glean your ATM PIN is for thieves to mount a wireless video camera inside the ATM area. It can look as harmless as a brochure holder. Once the scammers have your number, magnetic strips are easy to make and thieves are able to easily reproduce ATM cards. This cloned ATM cards cannot be used in Nigeria because of the chip and PIN introduced by Nigerian banks. However, it can be used overseas.
We mentioned above how easy it is for thieves to replicate ATM cards. All they need is a magnetic strip and a plastic card. Armed with an ATM card, all a would-be thief needs is a PIN. Some email phishing scams have been designed to find out just that.
Representing your bank, a scammer can send you an email with a notice on it saying something about incomplete account information or that you need to update your account information. You click on the link and follow the directions, but you’re not at your bank, you’re at a site designed to look like your bank by thieves. They collect your information and are free to replicate your ATM card or simply withdraw money from your account via online banking.
Similar to the Lebanese Loop where a thin sleeve traps your card, this time your cash is trapped by a sleeve or device slipped inside the cash dispenser. Your transaction will operate normally, but you won’t receive the cash you’ve withdrawn.
Chances are you will either walk or drive away assuming the machine is out of order or you’ll go inside the bank and report the incident. Either way, you have left the machine or the thieves can walk up, remove the device, and your cash.