Lift up your hand if you’ve ever been in this scenario. You are waiting for an important message, or maybe not, but at the beep of your phone the message you receive reads; Nitumie ile pesa kwa hii number ile ingine haifanyi. Or, you are on your daily bustle and you get a call; only to end up wasting minutes of your life, talking to someone who’s pretending they’re calling from Safaricom yet, they’re only phishing for your personal details and crucial information.
The aforementioned are just very common examples. However, these fraud scenarios don’t end there. Sometimes the fraudsters sound very legit, especially in a scenario where they’re calling to award you for a competition that you really participated in. I can relate to this because years back when YU was still a network, I was zombified by this type of fraud. I remember arguing with my mother for hours, as I tried to convince her that I had participated in the said competition. But every time I brought the topic up she kept insisting that I was being phished. But how could I? I was confident in my digital know-how hence I too kept insisting that she was just blocking my success because she couldn’t believe I was going to become a millionaire at such a young age. You don’t want to know how she responded. Nonetheless, what I can tell you is that the millions never came and the fraudster eventually gave up on me after I stopped picking his calls.
Fast forward to 2020, under the hashtag #tuwaanike, Safaricom took to Facebook live to share with the public, ways to avoid falling prey to fraudsters. In light of this, the following are some of the strategies you can implement to protect yourself from online theft and in the case it happens, ways you can take action.
Ways to protect yourself from online fraudsters
Be alert and take note of who you are engaging
A common scenario is where you receive a message that resembles what companies like Safaricom, KCB, Equity or any other company usually sends as push notifications. The particular message may inform you of available soft loans and in most cases, you are prompted to apply, since apparently you are legible. In such an event do not engage or dial the number/shortcode provided. This is usually a case of fake loan fraud.
Another instance is where you receive a message that is not from M-PESA, but the wording is similar. Shortly after, someone calls you and they ask you to reverse the money because they made a wrong transaction. Unfortunately, if you are not conscious of who you are engaging or aware of the money you had in your MPESA you are likely to fall prey to this trick. To avoid this, it’s always best to be vigilant by taking note of the number sending you messages before you engage. Also, look at the balance in your account. Obviously, it will not tally as per the fraudster’s claim.
Safaricom calls from one number which is 0722000000. Therefore, if a different number is calling claiming to be from Safaricom report it via 333 or block it immediately.
Do not be in a rush to do the caller’s bidding
Fraudsters are always in a rush. Especially in cases that involve transactions or you sending them details. Since the trick employed is usually menial and they don’t want to risk you pondering over it and discovering that you’re being played, time then becomes of the essence. Therefore, if someone ever calls to ask you to reverse a transaction or even offer that it’s okay for you to take a sum from the money they sent you and send the rest (because apparently they’re in a rush or in a fix), take a moment to assess your actions before following through with their instructions.
Additionally, when it comes to wrong transactions and reversals, instead of doing the caller’s bidding, you can ask them to take it up with the network. Safaricom can reverse a wrong transaction within 24 hours, which disengages you from the scenario, protecting you from fraud and possible theft. But here too, there’s a loophole. Read this story to find out more.
However, in the case that it is you, who has made a wrong transaction and you would like a quick reversal, contact Safaricom through 456 for reversal, use channels like Zuri or my Safaricom app.
In the event, you have an issue and you would like to get in touch with a company like Safaricom via online channels, do not post and then add your number on the timeline. Instead, slide into their DM, or get in touch via private messaging. Be vigilant, so that you don’t end up sharing your information via a fake online page. Check out how to avoid being conned by fraudsters both online and offline
Probe and inquire before taking action
Recently, I received a call from someone claiming I had received a package, and that I needed to pick it up immediately. Upon asking the caller where the package was from, she said it was from China and apparently, it had stayed in their possession for a while. To remedy this, she said I needed to go with Ksh. 7,000 so that I could get the package cleared.
If not for the inconsistency in the information and the caller asking for a custom fee, I would’ve fallen prey to the sham since, at the time, I was expecting a package from another country. Therefore, online shoppers, pay attention to security measures implemented in the platforms you shop at. Avoid keying in your credit card numbers and personal information on sites you don’t trust. And lastly, never give someone your credit card even if you are paying for something at a physical shop. Ask the vendor to let you make the payments personally, and proceed as required. To read more on this check out this story on card fraud at clubs by Hapakenya.
Do not respond to triggering messages and curiosity texts
While sympathy texts or the common one I am a doctor from Canada looking for a woman…may not work on you, a triggering text might. Especially if the scenario applies. An example of such a text could be “Your husband is cheating on you with me, save this number and message me via WhatsApp so I can send proof.”
Often, fraudsters use such curiosity messages to trigger you for a response or to get you to reveal personal information. To avoid being conned do not engage such messages curiosity texts. Otherwise, you risk being strung along and revealing important information to strangers who may take advantage of you.
Do not engage unknown international calls
Usually, texts from such numbers bear sympathy messages prompting you to call back because a relative has died, or someone is sick or injured. Hence in the event, you receive a missed call or a message from an international number you were not expecting, do not engage. The wise thing is to block the numbers to avoid future communication. Such scammers benefit by getting the airtime charged from your end and that is why if you fall prey to this scam and call back, your airtime gets depleted within seconds. This is why you need to watch the Kenyan series Janjaruka to avoid being conned
What you can do in the event of a fraud case
Block the number.
Report the issue or the fraudsters to the police for further investigation.
Forward the information on 333. This is a free SMS tool that allows you to report fraud cases. To do so efficiently,
Attach your number, the number of the fraudster, and indicate a brief statement explaining what has happened.
In the event you want feedback get in touch with the call centre via their social media pages (Facebook or Twitter) and the fraud team will raise a ticket on the issue and get in touch with you. This option is also applicable in the case where the number involved doesn’t fall under the Safaricom network. After you report the fraud case to Safaricom they will get in touch with the appropriate network or get the fraudster’s number deactivated.
If a phone is stolen, call 456 and block your line. This will protect your contacts from being scammed.
Note that Safaricom number remains 0722000000, at no point should you go along with a Safaricom caller who calls from a different number.
I am a writer with interest in hair, beauty and fashion. I also like telling stories, but most of all I enjoy listening and reading them. If I'm not doing any of the above, I will be trying to crack a game of chess or monopoly. My biggest fear is being ordinary.