In a proactive move to protect Nigerians from an escalating wave of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) swap fraud, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has issued a stern warning, urging citizens to exercise caution and adopt preventive measures. The alert comes in response to a surge in complaints received by the commission, signalling a growing trend of unauthorised withdrawals linked to fraudulent ATM card swapping.
Dele Oyewale, the Head of Media and Publicity at the EFCC, conveyed this cautionary advice in a statement released to journalists on Tuesday in Ibadan. The statement highlighted the modus operandi of the fraudsters, stating the need for heightened awareness and vigilance among the public.
ATM swap fraud on the rise
The EFCC has observed a concerning increase in ATM swap fraud cases, where criminals exploit unsuspecting bank customers through deceptive card swapping techniques. The fraudsters, as outlined by Oyewale, strategically keep a debit card from the same bank and swiftly swap it under the pretence of assisting a confused bank customer at any ATM point.
The fraudulent act is executed with precision, leaving the customer oblivious to the quick card swap and simultaneously memorising the PIN used with the fake card. Once the fake card gets stuck in the machine due to incorrect PIN entries, the fraudster abandons the victim, advising them to report the issue to the bank. Meanwhile, the criminal makes off with the victim’s card, facilitating immediate withdrawals from the victim’s account.
Oyewale said this card-swapping scheme is not confined to ATMs alone but extends to other service delivery points such as Point of Sale (POS) terminals, underlining the urgency for the banking public to exercise extra caution when conducting transactions.
Tips to safeguard against fraud
In response to the growing threat, the EFCC has outlined a series of practical tips to empower the banking public in safeguarding their financial assets:
1. Keep Cards Secure: After completing any transaction, ensure to keep your cards in sight or store them in a safe place.
2. Verify Card Ownership: Always confirm that the debit card being used belongs to you.
3. Regularly Check Statements: Routinely review your bank statements for any unfamiliar transactions.
4. Set Transaction Alerts: Enable transaction alerts to monitor activities on your accounts or with your bank card closely.
5. Protect PIN Entry: Conceal the keypad with your hand or body when entering your PIN at POS terminals/ATM machines.
6. Avoid Rush: Refrain from rushing through payments or withdrawals; take the necessary time to ensure security.
7. Seek Assistance from Bank Officials: Request assistance only from authorised officials of the bank.
8. Prompt Reporting: Call your bank immediately to block your ATM cards if they get stuck in ATM machines or if any irregularities are observed.
9. Know Your Bank’s ATM Offline Blocking Code: Familiarize yourself with your bank’s ATM offline blocking code and utilise it promptly if your card is misplaced or stolen.
10. Emergency Blocking Code: Dial the USSD code *966*911# and follow the on-screen instructions to block your ATM card instantly.
EFCC’s Commitment to safeguarding finances
Oyewale assured the public that the EFCC remains unwavering in its commitment to protecting personal, corporate, and national finances. The commission, in its relentless pursuit of eradicating economic and financial crimes, aims to empower individuals with the knowledge and tools needed to thwart fraudulent activities.
The warning from the EFCC serves as a call to action for Nigerians to be vigilant, informed, and proactive in protecting their financial well-being. The collaboration between the public and law enforcement agencies is pivotal in creating a robust defence against the evolving tactics employed by fraudsters, ensuring the security and integrity of the nation’s financial landscape.