Mrs Adewale (not real name), a retiree had received a phone call purportedly from her bank notifying her of an attempted withdrawal from her account. She was told the attempt was blocked but she would need to update her details.
In the process, she gave the caller who she said sounded nice, her account and card details including her personal identification number (PIN), thanking him for saving her the journey to the banking hall.
What she did not know was that she had given access to her account to a fraudster and only became aware when she began to receive debit alerts. By the time she made it to the banking hall to complain, her account was empty.
Her story is not so different from Ahmed an entrepreneur based in Lagos who had received an email purportedly from his bank notifying him of a pending debit of N58,000 for a newsletter.
He explained that sine he didn’t subscribe to any newsletter and did not want to be debited, he had clicked on a link in the email which he believed would stop the debit.
The click took him to a website similar to that of his bank where he filled in his internet banking log in details as well as card details. At the end of the day, his story ended like that of Mrs Adewale.
Unlike the earlier two individuals, Madam Chiamaka a phone accessories trader in Ikeja had complained that the bank had deducted more than N50,000 from her account. When her bank statement was printed, it was discovered that the money had been transferred into her neighbours account. Unknowing to her, her neighbours had seen her press her PIN and had made the transfer whiteout her knowledge.
These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of personal encounters of bank customers with fraudsters who have continued to invest in diverse methods to defraud unsuspecting bank customers of their funds. As banks seek new ways to satisfy their customers through technological advancements, fraudsters have likewise continued to find new ways to bait customers.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, had revealed that the total cost of cybercrimes is worth an eye-watering $42 billion, which was cash taken straight off companies’ bottom line, whilst 13 per cent of those who had experienced fraud said they had lost $50 million-plus.
Back home, the 2018 Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she stated that Banks recorded 25,029 confirmed cases of fraud and this resulted in a loss of N2.21 billion and than 90 per cent of fraud cases in 2018 were perpetrated via technologically driven channels.
According to the 2018 report of Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), the volume of fraud reported in 2018 had been the highest in the last four years with an increase of 55.1 per cent from 25,043 in 2017 t0 38,852 in 2018. Also its attempted and actual loss value increased by 124.3 and 27.5 per cents respectively.
Attempted fraud value had risen from N4.03 billion in 2017 to N9.04 billion in 2018 while actual fraud value had risen to N2.08 billion in 2018 from N1.63 in 2017. This brings the total fraud value since 2014 to N14.35 billion.
To ensure that their customers do not become prey to fraudsters, banks have severally sent out messages and advertorials educating their customers on ways through with the fraudsters operate. Customer are advised on the best way to protect them selves and their funds from fraudsters.
One of the key messages that is sent o by banks asides ensuring that they do not disclose sensitive information to third parties is prompt notification to the bank upon loss or theft of sensitive items such as ATM card, sim card of phone that is linked to one’s bank account and compromise of bank account details.
Sensitive account details can be compromised when customers respond to fraudulent calls or phishing emails and text messages. It can also be compromised when it is revealed l third parties such as family members, neighbours, colleagues and friend.
The bank should also be notified when customers are suspicious of fraudulent activities on their account. Incidents such as receiving one time password (OTP) when no such request has been made or debit alerts when the customer has not made any transactions should be promptly reported.
Also asides notifying the bank upon the loss of bank account token, phone number or sim card that is linked to one’s bank account, customers should immediately call their bank when email address that is linked to their bank account is compromised.
The bank should be immediately notified upon the suspicion that the customers’ bank account vis-à-vis ATM card pin number, mobile and/or online banking applications and other electronic channels have been compromised.
There have also been instances where customers have entrusted their funds to people for deposit. A student in Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos had lost his school fees after he entrusted the money to someone in the banking hall posing to be a staff. Banks have continued to educate customers on ensuing that they only make deposits over the counter to designated staff.
Having confirmed the deposit details to ensure that funds are not paid into a wrong account, customers should ensure that they obtain evidence of deposit upon cash lodgement in in the bank.
Some customers are in the habit of trashing the receipts, meanwhile it is a document that should be collected and kept as evidence of payment.
Also, family members need to promptly notify the bank in the event of the demise of a customer. Fraudsters do not only target the account of customers who are alive, they also seek to defraud the dead.
Upon the death of a bank customer; the family of the deceased should notify the bank to enable the immediate freezing of the deceased customer’s account.
This is pivotal to preventing unauthorised persons from having access to the funds, pending when the funds will be properly discharged by administrators.
This will reduce fraudulent activities on deceased customers’ accounts and ensure funds are discharged according to stipulated laws.