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Nigeria: As Access Bank Intensifies Fight Against Financial System Fraud

Oluchi Chibuzor writes on efforts by Access Bank Plc to protect customers from the activities of fraudsters.

In recent times, the activities of fraudsters have increased and the banking sector is grappling with efforts to tackle this menace headlong.

The trend showed that globally, banks have been under increasing sophisticated fraud attacks, such that the long-running menace continues to siphon off billions of dollars from lenders every year.

For instance, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) revealed that organisations in developed economies were losing about five per cent of their annual revenues to fraudulent activity. Given that banking-industry revenues amount to trillions when combined, the sheer extent of funds being seized by criminal activity cannot be underestimated.

Also, a recent report by KPMG Global’s Global Banking Fraud Survey which surveyed 43 retail banks, of which 13 are in the Asia-Pacific region, five in the Americas, and 25 are in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, revealed that fraud costs are increasing at a faster rate than fraud risk management spend.

A radical rethink is urgently required, the International Banker, quoted KPMG’s global forensic leader, David Hicks to have said.

“Over half of the survey respondents globally experienced rising external fraud in terms of both total value and volume, with the most pronounced increases in fraud typologies globally from 2015 to 2018 coming from identity theft and account takeover, cyber-attacks, card-not-present fraud and authorised push-payments scams.

“What’s more, more than half of respondents recovered less than 25 percent of fraud losses, further underlining the importance of early fraud detection and prevention.

“One might have assumed that advancements in technology and digital banking would help in the fight against fraud. But what’s even more evident is just how useful such technology is proving to be to criminals in their searches to commit ever more sophisticated types of fraud.

“The sheer volume of digital-banking transactions today means cybercriminals can use a variety of advanced techniques to scam banking customers and ultimately acquire their assets.

“And to compound matters even further, the digital landscape that is now home to millions of daily transactions is also well suited for such criminals to hide their fraudulent activities,” the report added.

That is why in Nigeria, a lot of financial institutions have intensified efforts in the fight against fraudsters across all the banking platforms. Once of such institutions is Access Bank Plc.

Access Bank is a full service commercial bank operating through a network of 348 branches and service outlets located in major centres across Nigeria, Sub Saharan Africa and the UK.

The bank serves over six customers in Nigeria and has enjoyed what is arguably Africa’s most successful banking growth trajectory in one decade, ranking among Africa’s top 15 banks by total assets and capital.

The bank established an anti-fraud unit in 2013, to deal with cases of fraud resulting from an increase in the use of electronic channels.

Specifically, the initiative, implemented to protect customers on its channels for transactions, also provides a veritable outlet for proactive information dissemination of anti-fraud programmes, policies and guidelines to the bank’s varied stakeholder groups. This effort has heightened staff consciousness and boosted customers’ awareness as well as frustrated several fraudulent schemes.

The bank was recently admitted into the prestigious Fraud Advisory Panel. This membership gives us the opportunity to share valuable knowledge in fraud-related information with member institutions globally.

Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, had said in Nigeria, customers are culturally not attuned to security issues around digital transactions, pointing out that even well-educated people run the risk of falling victim to social engineering and identity theft traps.

“We must go beyond educating customers on the protection of crucial information to actual data protection and integrity amongst operators and stakeholders,” Wigwe had said.

“I am a great believer in collaboration to solve problems. Our collaborative efforts in data protection and customer education are required in countering security threats in Digital payments,” he added.

In line with this, the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee had launched a cyber-security and fraud awareness campaign, called ‘Moni Sense,’ to educate members of the public on the benefits of protecting their bank and other related transaction details.

Access Bank’s Effort

The bank over the years has remained committed to educating its customers, informing and protecting them from fraudsters. Access Bank has been proactive in ensuring that its customers are safe from fraudulent activities as it asked customers to be on the lookout for fraudsters who are using new scam methods to rip people off by preying on the distress that comes with the nation-wide lockdown.

The bank has also created dedicated pages on its official website that constantly educate customers on the schemes and tricks employed by fraudsters.

The bank said fraudsters contact their potential victim either via mail, phone call or text to request for sensitive banking details with the promise of crediting their account, after which they proceed to withdraw the money in the victim’s bank account.

In addition, they also come under the guise of government officials, social advocates and false NGOs allocated to share the relief fund that was promised by the government.

This, unfortunately, is a fraudulent scheme and given the current state of affairs, an easy scam to fall for.

“Informed and alert consumers assist in the frontline of defense against payment fraud. Access Bank and her partner card schemes (Interswitch, Visa, Valucard) will never send you an e-mail asking for confidential information such as account numbers, passwords, PIN numbers, credit card numbers or social security numbers.

“Protect yourself from fraudulent e-mails (phishing) claiming to be from a credit card company, bank’s website or any other website for that matter. Delete unsolicited e-mail or SMS that asks for this type of personal information.

“If you suspect you’ve provided confidential information to a fraudulent site or individual, contact the customer service number on the back of your card or from your account statement.

“You can report e-mail fraud claiming to be from any of our partner card schemes by forwarding the suspicious message to: [email protected],” it advised its customers.

Furthermore, it advised customers not to ever write down their Personal Identification Number (PIN), but to always memorise it!

“Never disclose PIN numbers to anyone. When selecting a PIN, do not choose numbers and letters that can be easily identified. Avoid using initials, phone numbers or birth dates. Make sure you sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

“Make a record of card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. Keep this list in a safe place. Make sure your card is returned after every purchase. Never give card numbers over the phone, unless you have initiated the call. Always verify the transaction amount before signing the sales receipt.

“Always check sales vouchers to verify that the amount on the customer copy of the receipt matches the amount recorded on the merchant copy. Know who has access to your cards. Do not leave cards in the glove compartment of your car. Report lost or stolen cards to your issuing bank immediately and report suspicious activities to your issuing bank.

“Do not use your card to make purchases online on websites you are not sure of its security. Some of those websites do not require your PIN for payments to be made from your account.

“Where it is a fraudulent website, your card details can be used to make purchases online. Enrol for VbyV so as to minimise the risks of being defrauded. Your card is as important as your PIN,” the bank stated.

According to an Executive Director of Access Bank, Victor Etuokwu, “Access Bank is imploring its customers to be wary of any message, demanding their personal or bank details.

“Customers must remember that the bank will never ask for their BVN, full card PAN, PIN, mobile app activation code, OTP or password as most of this information is readily available to the Bank via its database. Any call, email and text message, claiming to be from Access Bank and demanding for any of these details is certainly a scam.

“Also, customers are advised to refrain from sharing user-generated codes when migrating from the old mobile applications to the Access More app. With knowledge of this pin, these fraudsters can gain entry to your bank app, and from there have access to the money in your account,” he added.