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The new dimension to e-fraud

By Babajide Komolafe

DEAR customer, due to the new BVN policy by the CBN your account has been deactivated and to reactivate, call…”

The above text message is the latest bait used by fraudsters to lure unsuspecting bank customers to disclose their bank account details, especially their debit or credit card details and their Personal Identification Number (PIN), so that they can gain unauthorized access into the accounts and fraudulently withdrew the money therein.

Mobile Money

The fraudsters realized that many bank customers may not have enrolled for the BVN, and hence decided to take advantage of the warnings from the banks to deny customers that have not enrolled access to their accounts, to lure people into divulging their card details. Thus the BVN deadline and the threat of account deactivation became a potent weapon in the hands of fraudsters.

While it may be difficult to ascertain if any bank customer have fallen prey to this new antic, the enormity of the threat and perhaps the potential impact on the industry, was reflected in a press release issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) calling the attention of bank customers to the circulation of such text message.

The press release stated, “It has come to the notice of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) that certain unscrupulous individuals have been sending unsolicited mails and text messages to unsuspecting bank customers, alerting them about deactivation or suspension of their bank accounts due to uncompleted Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration process.

An example of such messages reads thus; “Dear customer, due to the new BVN policy by the CBN your account has been deactivated and to reactivate, call……”

The Central Bank of Nigeria wishes to warn individuals and the general public that those messages are intended to lure bank account holders to reveal their personal details with which the fraudsters could use to defraud them.

Deposit money banks

“The public is therefore warned that neither the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and deposit money banks nor their employees or agents would ever call bank customers or send e-mail/text messages requesting for passwords, card details or personal identification number (PIN). Bank customers are therefore advised to personally visit their banks for any issue requiring disclosure of personal bank details. Please be warned.”

The warning, though necessary, may be too late, and most importantly, it does not address the root of the problem. The real problem is the lopsided communication about the BVN. There is so much emphasis on the deadline for enrollment as if customers that fail to enrol by the deadline won’t be able to enrol again.

Also most of the messages from banks, emphasis the fact that customers that fail to enroll by the deadline will be denied access to their account, with less emphasis on the fact that the customers will be allowed access once he enroll for the BVN.

The October 31st  deadline is not deadline for BVN enrollment, rather it is deadline for liberty to operate accounts without BVN enrollment. After the deadline, enrollment becomes a criterion for operating a bank account and hence it becomes compulsory.

That is what should have been emphasized. Hence, the messages from the banks should be, “From November 1st  2015, only customers that have enrolled for BVN would be allowed to operate their bank accounts”.

By so doing, the fear or threat of not been able to operate your account, which is been erroneously created, would not arise, and thus, the BVN deadline would not be  attractive to fraudsters as a weapon to defraud bank customers.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.