Safaricom customers in Kenya have raised concerns about the surge in unsolicited subscription prompts, leaving them puzzled and worried. The prompts, which have been occurring sporadically since the beginning of the year, seem to have increased in frequency, leading to speculation about potential glitches in the system or malicious activities by bad actors.
Nature of Subscription Prompts
Customers are receiving prompts with varying subscription amounts and messages. An example prompt reads: “Do you want to pay Kshs. 220 to electronet-997998 Account no. Loan processing fee Upto 50000 ksh? Enter M-PESA PIN:”
Different Safaricom customers are encountering prompts to pay different amounts for subscriptions, raising concerns about the legitimacy and transparency of these services.
Escalation Amid M-PESA Downtimes
The situation has become more alarming as Safaricom’s M-PESA platform faces intermittent downtimes. The increased frequency of prompts during these downtimes raises questions about the integrity of the system and the potential risks for unsuspecting users.
Challenges Faced by Customers
Customers face several challenges with these unsolicited prompts:
- Unintended Subscriptions: Users may unknowingly subscribe to unknown services, resulting in the deduction of their M-PESA funds.
- Incorrect Payments: Prompts may appear during bill payments, leading to the possibility of paying to the wrong till number.
- Airtime Balance Depletion: Some prompts use customer airtime balance rather than M-PESA payment, particularly occurring at night, leading to users waking up to confirm subscriptions and find part of their airtime balance used.
Concerns About Data Breach and Scams
There is growing concern that this could be a serious data breach or a new scam targeting Safaricom customers. If unscrupulous individuals have infiltrated the telco’s systems, customers are seeking action from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).
Safaricom’s Response and User Action
As of now, there has been no official response from Safaricom or the relevant authorities. Customers are encouraged to check their subscribed services by dialing 1005*1# to verify and manage their premium subscriptions.
The situation raises critical questions about the security of customer data and the need for prompt action to investigate and address the concerns raised by Safaricom users. The potential impact on users’ financial accounts and the overall trust in digital services necessitate a thorough examination of the situation by regulatory bodies and the telecommunications company.