As the holiday season draws near, fraudsters are on the prowl for whom to defraud using dubious shopping websites and posing on social media platforms as customer support agents of legitimate businesses to steal your identity.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday alerted Nigerians that it has been inundated with barrage of complaints from well-meaning Nigerians concerning unauthorized withdrawals from their bank accounts, which investigations by the Commission have linked to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Debit Card swapping or fraud.
A statement by the anti-graft agency’s Head, Media & Publicity, Mr. Dele Oyewale, said the modus operandi of fraudsters involved in this nefarious practice involves keeping a debit card of the same bank, and in the guise of helping a confused bank customer at any ATM point, swaps the card in such a hurry that the customer would not notice and at the same time memorises the pin used in trying the fake cards.
“These cards get stocked in the machine due to a wrong pin and the fraudster quickly abandons the victim, advising him/ her to report to the bank while making away with the victim’s card to make immediate withdrawals from the account.
“This card swapping typically happens in any service delivery point, such as Point of Sale, POS, terminals, ATM points, among others. The fraudulent practice is gaining momentum across the country and the banking public is enjoined to be more circumspect in the use of debit cards.
“In view of the foregoing, the following tips may be useful in avoiding further financial losses by the banking public.
“1. Cards should be kept in sight or a safe place. Whenever you get your card back after making any payment, make sure it is actually your card and not just one that looks similar.
“2. Regularly check your bank statements for any unknown transaction.
“3. Set transaction alerts to monitor any activity on your accounts or with your bank card.
“4. Cover the keypad with your hand or body when entering your PIN at POS terminal/ATM machines.
“5. Do not be in a rush to make payments or withdrawals and request for assistance only from officials of the bank.
“6. Call your banks to block your ATM cards immediately when your cards are stuck in the ATM machines or whenever you observe any irregularity.
“7. Ensure you know your bank’s ATM off line blocking code and quickly make use of it whenever it is misplaced or stolen.
“8. Dial the USSD code *966*911# and follow the pop-up instructions to block your ATM card instantly.”
Oyewale said “the EFCC will not relent in safeguarding personal, corporate and national finances in its quest to rid our nation of all forms of economic and financial crimes.”
But the Daily Trust reports that while ATM cards frauds are posed to spike during the holiday season, according to reports, other types of frauds that fraudsters are likely to use in defrauding you include digital loan scams, one-time password (OTP) scams, giveaway campaign scams, and free gift or voucher scams.
Aside from the security measures put in place by EFCC, businesses such as banks, fintechs and online shopping stores, you owe it to yourself to take some safety precautions when conducting financial transactions during this holiday season.
Here are more easy safety tips to save yourself from fraudsters this holiday.
Shop from secure retail outlets
Shoppers this holiday season will see an increase in dubious shopping websites, with some of them offering ridiculous discounts to attract unsuspecting shoppers to input their debit card details which would be stolen by fraudsters.
Do not shop on an online retail store that you don’t trust or haven’t used before, it doesn’t matter whether they are offering the best discount. Moreso, if the discounts they are offering look too good to be true, it’s probably because it is not true.
Shop using verified online websites or payment apps that are secure and seamless. Payment apps like PalmPay have been integrated with different business outlets, allowing you to pay your bills and utilities securely and with ease.
Use only trusted POS machines
Whether you want to withdraw cash to spend this holiday season or make payments using a point of sale (POS), it is good that you thread carefully and only patronise POS agents that have terminals of fintech brands that you can trust.
Stay vigilant and watch out for possible irregularities while patronising POS agents. To ensure that the details of your card are not stolen, hide them and do not input your personal identification number (PIN) in the presence of other people.
Using POS terminals of trusted fintech companies cannot be emphasised enough. For ease of transaction, use POS terminals that offer a good network, a reliable system with less than one percent failure rate, an option to know banks’ network updates in real-time, and 24/7 quick customer dispute resolution.
Be wary of unsolicited calls, emails and texts
Expect to receive several unsolicited phone calls, emails and text messages from scammers claiming to be from businesses that you know. Some of these calls, emails and texts would claim that you’ve won a discount or holiday giveaway from a trusted business and would ask you to pay some money to enjoy the discount or giveaway.
Do not fall for this trick. Legitimate businesses will not ask you to pay money to enjoy a giveaway promotion or require that you send sensitive bank details to be granted access to a discount. Beware! No staff or agents of PalmPay will call or text you to ask for money or sensitive information in exchange for a coupon or a discount.
Research discounts, giveaways
This brings us to the next and one of the most important safety tips to always apply during this holiday season and after. Always do your research on purported discounts and giveaway challenges supposedly coming from trusted brands.
During the holiday, whenever you come across an ongoing giveaway promotion, go to the official social media accounts and websites of the brand to verify. Any discount or giveaway challenge that is not communicated to the public through the official social media channels of a legitimate business should be viewed cautiously.
Avoid fraudulent fintech apps
Do not give out your personal information and bank details to fintech platforms that you do not trust. It is important that we repeat this safety warning. Do not download fintech apps that are not regulated by the government.
Loan or fintech apps that are not regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and whose deposits are not insured by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) should be avoided completely. Before downloading any fintech or loan app, conduct your research to ensure that they boldly carry the CBN and NDIC badges.
Aside from being regulated by the CBN and insured by NDIC, “at PalmPay we go the extra mile to ensure that our over 30 million users and the more than 1.1 million businesses that are part of our payment ecosystem are safe from fraudsters. Follow our social media handles to stay up-to-date on safety guidelines.”