Technology has transformed the way we do things in the 21st century in a big way, some which we’d never have imagined for those of us who have had the privilege to live a bit longer. But not everything has been rosy and cozy in areas that technology has touched, we now face lots of threats as a result than we did a few years back. One area that hasn’t been spared especially here in Kenya is the use of mobile devices to carry out cash transactions; paying for our shopping, utility bills or even transferring money to other entities. MPESA has a tremendous success in the business, but as is with almost all areas of technology, the service faces unprecedented amount of fraud both from the staff themselves and some ill-minded Kenyans.
We’ve all had this notion that MPESA fraud is mostly perpetuated by prisoners in Kamiti here in Kenya, this is far from the truth, ask anyone and you’ll mostly hear them lamenting on how they were or almost conned by some guys pretending to be working for Safaricom. There are a couple of loopholes that unfortunately expose MPESA customers to these frauds that Safaricom is either unable to fix or hasn’t had anyone inform them.
How to protect yourself from MPESA fraud.
- Never share your MPESA PIN with anyone and use a difficult to guess PIN not your date of birth!
This is the first precaution you ought to take. With your PIN, someone can easily access your MPESA balance and transact as they wish. I tend to think some of us trust too much to the extent of sharing MPESA details with agents. It’s a good thing at least Safaricom introduced a way to verify change of SIM cards before the exercise is completed.
- Trust Safaricom staff through their official means alone.
I say this because there’s a simple loophole that is often utilized by individuals with ill motives to steal from unsuspecting Kenyans. Its a good thing that Safaricom collaborated with banks to allow customers make withdrawals via ATM machines. Problem is the solution was unveiled half-baked. Unlike other MPESA transactions that require a PIN, only this method doesn’t require one to put an MPESA PIN. The process of withdrawing cash from an ATM machine works via a verification text message that is sent on your phone once the process has been initiated. This means if anyone has access to your phone, they can literally do anything as they wish unless you have set a SIM PIN.
- Set a SIM PIN
As elaborated above, you ought to set a SIM PIN just in case your phone lands in wrong hands. The process for setting a SIM PIN is pretty straight forward and can be achieved on any type of phone.
- Set a password or some form of security on your phone.
I remember way back when a friend’s phone was stolen while she was boarding a matatu. Because the phone didn’t have some sort of security, the perpetrator was able to get contact details of her parents and extorted money from them saying she was in some kind of trouble at a police station and a bribe was urgently needed to set her free. She didn’t have a phone at the time so there was no way they could verify than just comply.
- Never comply with dubious MPESA messages
I’m sure a good number of us have had to endure this. You get an MPESA message that isn’t really from MPESA but someone who calls immediately asking for you to refund their cash.
- Always verify from your MPESA mini statements in case of a claim from someone and let them report to Safaricom for a reversal
How to report MPESA fraudsters to Safaricom
- Compose a text message with the number of the perpetrator or a text you’ve received
- Then send to “333”
- Its free of charge.