One day I received a text message on my phone that reads “Dear customer, your account has been temporarily deactivated. Kindly send us your BVN and the last four digits of your ATM card immediately or call our customer care on +234xxxxxxx to activate it. Thank you. From your bank.” Have you ever received a message like this? Or has someone ever called you or sent you an email with a similar message? Whenever you see this, just know that something is phishy.
Phishing is a criminal activity whereby a target or targets are contacted through text message, email or even direct phone call by an imposter who disguise as a genuine person or organization, in order to obtain sensitive information from the target. Phishing is a fraudulent activity and it’s usually done by cyber criminals commonly called scammers.
They call or text their target by acting like a known or trusted person in order to gather information which would help them to defraud their targets. They usually demand for bank account details such as BVN and OTP; passwords and credit card details. These fraudsters can sometimes pretend to be your relative, friend or even your bank employee. Their objective is to lure you so that you can provide them with sensitive information that would help them carry out their evil plan.
How to Identify Phishy Conversations?
– They use Generic Subject Lines
Legitimate emails often have detailed subject lines. When you notice an ambiguous subject line in an email, it is an indicator that something is phishy. Scammers often use a vague, unclear subject line to confuse their targets so that they won’t know where exactly the mail is coming from.
– They use suspicious web address
Scammers would not want to make their identity known. This is why they use ambiguous web addresses. Whenever you see URLs that end in “.xyz” or some sort of confusing web address, you should know that’s a scam. Many of those government grants of 30,000 or 10,000 you see on Whatsapp and other social platforms are scam. When you look at the link attached to those messages, you’ll find out that they are not government websites. Every government website ends with “.gov” and sometimes they may add the appellation of their country. For instance, in Nigeria we have “.gov.ng” and in the United Kingdom you will have “.gov.uk” So, if anybody sends you a link claiming to be from government and you’re not seeing anything “.gov” there, then you should never click such link.
Let me tell you what they do with those links. The first thing they do with those link is to gain traffic to their website and they make money from that too. But their main goal is to hack into your social media accounts. That’s why thy will always ask you to share their link on your WhatsApp groups and Facebook. The moment you share those links, they’ll be able to know the groups you belong to on WhatsApp and they can easily gain access into your account. That’s how some people’s WhatsApp get hacked. Stop following ambiguous links.
– Unnecessary Urgency
Every device has an IP address which can be used to track it anywhere in the world. Scammers understand this and that is why they are always in a haste to get their targets’ approval. Phishing scam always come with urgency. And this is because they want to quickly get their target so that they won’t be caught. Most of the time, they are already working on your bank account before calling you or sending you a message so if you are ignorant of their tricks and you respond to them immediately, it won’t take five minutes before you start receiving debit alerts on your phone. So, one of the ways to identify a phishing scam is that it comes with urgency.
– Bad Grammar/Spelling
Grammatical or spelling error is an indicator of phishing scam. When a message is having spelling errors or grammatical errors, it shows that it was not sent by a qualified professional. It means it didn’t come from a corporate body. I think the reason why phishing scam usually have errors is because they are too hasty to edit it, and because they are not so educated.
– Phishing Scam Usually Open a New Conversation
Normally, in your messaging application on your phone, old conversations (or messages) from the same source should be together. Just like the way it is on WhatsApp or Messenger. But when a scam message is sent to you, it will open a separate conversation for itself even if the title or name is the same as the older ones. For instance, when you receive alert from your bank, you will see the other alerts in the same conversation but when you receive a fake alert, it will not be among the other alerts you’ve been receiving.
These are some of the ways to block and control phishing scam and save yourself from all these cyber criminals. They actually cannot do anything with your account if you deny them the information they’re asking for. So, when you notice any phishing activity on your bank account, do the following:
- Contact your bank immediately to confirm the status of your account;
- Do not send any code to anybody and do not disclose your BVN over the phone to anybody;
- Change your ATM password if you can;
- Change the password to your Facebook account and do a two-step verification for your WhatsApp;
- Change your password for internet banking and log out your bank account from every other device apart from the one with you.