Dear John Doe, you have received xxx from …. Almost every day Kenyans receive these types of messages from a personal line under Safaricom or Airtel e.t.c. However, with our busy day to day lives, we barely get to notice that it’s not a true Mpesa transactional message.
Then again, the need for quick money at the tap of a screen is the new normal. Loan apps are sprouting left right and centre, businesses are looking for quick loans to meet targets and scammers are right there waiting to exploit your situation. Here is how to protect yourself.
Registering with your Phone Number
So here is the simplest answer to how do scammers get your phone number. When you walk into a building like a bank or a hotel or anywhere security requires you to sign in, do you put down your phone number? There you go!
This is something a lot of Kenyans do in almost every building and we subconsciously just put our names and ID and walk past security. This is one of the places where your details are collected and shared to dupe you into losing your finances.
As a solution, if you have an airtel line or a dead number that you don’t use for any transactions, input that instead.
Don’t Download Apps haphazardly
A lot of apps that scam clients take advantage of the desperation of Kenyans and their haste to download loan apps. And because the rate of borrowing is exponentially high, caution is thrown to the wind when looking for quick cash. So how do you avoid being duped?
Reviews all apps and check for authenticity online is one way to start especially those that ask for registration fees upfront or your bank account details. The chances of you getting a loan with such apps is zero plus you just lost money in the process.
Read the Terms and Conditions
Let’s just agree no ones reads the terms and conditions of apps apart from the basic information asked. It’s only after data violation and social media overstepping its purpose that the realization of reading the fine print is a thing now.
When you download apps, go through the terms and check/uncheck what you are okay with. Because as a default, apps come with all the checkboxes ticked. Also, go through the privacy policies to know what you are getting into and if the app is verified and registered as advertised.
Is there a Physical address?
We are all humans and all businesses need a physical location especially where money is involved. CBK rules. Scammers are usually hard to find and most often times have no address. Who are you giving your money to?
Physical addresses help the government and CBK to verify companies and verify the authenticity of the business. Before you take a chance with your money, check online and verify if the company physically address is legal and the business exists.
If a strange line calls you for personal details or wants to transact on your behalf, visit their offices or a bank branch to get assisted.
Interesting link? Don’t click!
Whatsapp, forwarded messages, chain chats, promotional messages and emails. These are just a few of the methods used by scammers to get access to your finances and lure you to predatory loan apps. In the same breath, forwarding such texts also puts others at risk.
Got a forwarded text, just delete it without opening it. Ever heard of pegasus? Well if you have heard the story of Troy and the Trojan horse, click the link and read more.
Duplicate/ CopyCat accounts
This one is a little tricky as cybercrime has become so sophisticated that it’s hard to tell websites or apps from the real deal.
Copycats look and functions like genuine mobile loan apps delivered by popular financial institutions like Timiza Barclays, Branch International or Saida. Consequently, they are not registered, licensed or controlled by any regulatory body in Kenya.
Look out for verified accounts on the Socials or visit the physical location of loan companies before you put your financial information out there.
Try to look for loan apps like Zenka or Branch who are registered with licensed accountability corporations as trustworthy loan apps.
Whichever provider you choose, is always reasonable to ask your friends and family about their experience to avoid personal loan scams. The Internet with numerous customer reviews may also come in handy.