In Nigeria today, you can make payments digitally, carry out mobile banking functions through USSD, take loans online and hold money on-the-go with e-wallets. Remember the CBN’s cashless policy? For one or all of these actions, there has to be a direct or indirect connection to your bank account.
This makes it very important to be security conscious when carrying out financial transactions online. Hackers, fraudsters and other criminals are constantly lurking and looking for people to defraud – and many people have already fallen victim. Over the past five years, Nigerian banks and their customers lost N12.06 billion to fraud and other scammers.
To avoid this fate and not lose your hard-earned money, here are five ways you can protect your online transactions and safeguard your finances online:
Create strong PINs & passwords (and change them regularly)
A PIN (Personal Identification Number) which is easily guessable is a recipe for disaster and your account could be emptied before you know it. Avoid using your date of birth, names, anniversary dates and so on. When thinking of passwords, use long combinations of letters, numbers, and alphanumeric and special characters with mixed casing for best password practices. Try as much as possible to avoid writing down your PIN or password anywhere except somewhere you absolutely trust. Also, NEVER share your PIN or password with anyone ever.
Enable two-factor authentication
This is to provide an extra layer of security when carrying out your online transactions. The CBN actually mandates banks to make this service available to customers. Each time you carry out a transaction online, using your cards, you receive a text with a one-time security password (OTP) to prevent someone else with your identity accessing your account. If you receive one of these texts without carrying out any online transaction, you should contact your bank immediately.
Beware of the kind of apps you install on your phone
There are certain apps that can access sensitive information on your phone while others are just not very secure. Make sure an app is encrypted and does not share your sensitive information with third parties before you download. Some viruses also pose as apps so pay close attention to what you are downloading on your phone.
Use password to protect your financial apps
Especially if you use e-wallets, bank apps or payment apps. Ensure that you use passwords to protect access to your financial apps so that they aren’t easily accessible to people that may want to steal from you. One way to go about is to download special apps called “app locks” that can lock certain apps on your phone so that you can protect the most important apps from being accessed by just anyone.
Wipe your data if your phone gets stolen or lost
If you do a lot of financial transactions on your phone, losing can be like losing your wallet. While chasing the thief or trying to get it back is one way to go about it, remotely wiping your phone before the thief can access you financial & sensitive information could be your best bet. Android and Apple phones can do this – as long as you set it up first and have a good internet connection.
Even if you do fall victim, there are usually various forms of respite for people who have fallen victim to these fraudulent schemes and scams. However, keep in mind that unlike the FairMoney app, other apps may not have as much security features. Therefore the best way to protect yourself is to practice safe habits like the ones listed above for financial transactions.
Stay safe out there!