Making money is not easy. It’s even harder if you have to work 5am to 9pm for it (though your employment letter said 9am to 5pm). It’s therefore devastating when you receive an alert saying YOU just withdrew some money from an ATM 5,000km away. This happened while you sat in your office with your ATM carefully nested in your pocket. It was difficult to prove to the bank it wasn’t you since all the details were supplied to the banking payment system tallied with yours. This was the story that prevailed when the magnetic swipe cards became compromised and banking customers were being scammed. Though the percentage of scams were reduced by 85% through the introduction of the token-text authentication system and chip-pin cards, scammers have new systems to ensure YOU either make the payments or willingly ‘share’ your banking details. New technology comes with its own set of crooks who seek to exploit the system are more knowledgeable than the average ATM card holder. With technology getting more and more advanced, banks are outdoing each other in adding banking services that can be accessed across various platforms and applications. Although Banks are investing in heavily in technology and cyber-security in order to beat the best of hackers, they also have to tackle customer ignorance. As with all types of frauds, the best way bank customers can counter this is to have more information and be fully aware of the possible dangers that lurk in cyberspace.
Here are the most common online banking scams that consumers should be aware of;
1. Advanced Text Fraud (ATF)
This one is the crude form of the Advanced Fee Fraud. With the emergence of text messaging systems which allow users to send bulk SMS while customizing the name of the sender, there have been reported cases of Advanced Text Fraud (ATF). In this case, customers who base their business transactions on receiving alerts systems (email or text) from their banks can get duped easily. Akin (not real name) is a car dealer who told a customer to go on and make payment at the bank while he waited patiently for a text message. Once he got the text message from the ‘bank’ he released the car only to realize later that the text message from the ‘bank’ was fake. He landed a victim of advanced text fraud.
While most bulk texting gateways are already taking precautions to vet messages before they go out, it is important for everyone to be suspicious enough to identify threats. Especially when you are conducting transactions that may expose you to risk, confirm payment independently from your account officer, your bank balance on your ATM, online banking channel or through systems created by the bank to help you confirm your transactions.
2. Stolen Chips, cheap passwords
With the emergence of the chip and pin passwords, frauds need to have both your ATM and password to get anything done. Customers make this easy and simple by using obvious passwords like your date of birth. If your purse or bag gets stolen, chances are that your ATM will be close to your ID card and fraudsters looking for information like this might try that to see if they are lucky.
The best way to prevent this is to use more secure passwords. In case you lose your card, don’t wait till you begin to receive alerts, report to the bank immediately.
3. Phishing – Some ‘fake’ banks need your password to upgrade
Sounds like fishing, but it is actually used when an online scammer ‘fishes’ on the internet for data from gullible users. While pretending to come from an original bank, they send out emails designed to lure you into revealing your banking/personal password, token pins or text codes which is then used to access your bank accounts online. Upgrading software, banking applications are not simple tasks; it can shut down entire banking operations so banks do not embark on it as often as those ‘we are upgrading’ emails suggest. While so many people know about this already, the fact that it is still being used means it is working for them. You receive an email purportedly from your bank purportedly requesting that you update your account information for a reason that sounds official. Click on the link directs you to the bank’s website but instead directs you to a cloned site which receives your data.
It doesn’t matter the phrase; “Verify your account”, “If you don’t’ respond within 24 hours, your account will be deleted”, “Click the link below to update your account information”, “Please provide your username and password”. No bank will need your password details to complete upgrade. Ignore any email requesting such. Avoid clicking on and avoid using public computers for personal banking transactions.
4. Withdraw at gun point
Since some are not that tech savvy, the next thing to do is to waylay customers trying to use ATMs. This especially occurs at night when human traffic is low and risk to them being caught is very high. Another trend happening within the Nigerian space includes robbers who force their victims to go to an ATM to withdraw cash.
Use only bank ATM machines in well-lighted, high-traffic areas. ATMs inside busy supermarkets are considered safer. Don’t use ATM machines that are remote or hidden such as being located behind buildings, behind pillars, walls, or away from public view. Beware of obvious hiding places like shrubbery or overgrown trees. ATM robbers like to
Always have enough cash especially at night. Even when you have no choice, avoid ATMs where people are lurking around. Since you cannot return the money to the ATM, don’t waste time counting money at night. If threatened by an ATM armed robber, don’t for any reason try to be a hero. Don’t fight or attempt to chase the robber. Simply walk to a safe place and contact your bank and the Police. However, the safest tip is to avoid being in dangerous situations either at night or in isolated places.
The only way around this is to take your personal safety seriously. Avoid ATMs where your security can be easily compromised.
5. Report to your bank’s watch-list any time you suspect anything
Most times when you receive those emails, most conscious customers already know this and they avoid trouble, however others still fall into the scam because we do not report it. When you spot a scam, phishing and fraudulent scam, report it to the bank immediately, this allows the bank to take the necessary actions that get the website blacklisted, banned or taken down.
All across the world the battle to secure online and technology transactions is becoming more complex and technical. We banking customers can also improve the banking system by taking the necessary precautions that makes your financial transactions secure.