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Useful tips for using your ATM card safely in Nigeria
| January 21, 2016

Right now in Nigeria, we are embracing the cashless policy and your ATM card and mobile phone have become vital items that must be handy every time and anytime of the day. We all use our ATM cards more than ever nowadays. It is like carrying our banks wherever we go. From buying airtime on our phones to settling bills and more, our ATM cards work wonders with cash in it.

From my point of view, carrying your ATM card is carrying your savings…and sometimes life savings. Therefore, it has to be protected and guarded jealously. Here are a few tips that can help you use your ATM card safely in Nigeria.

Always keep your ATM cards in a secure place: Often times, we unconsciously bring out our ATM cards while at the ATM queues before our turn to make our transactions or in public places such as at the bus-stop or in commercial vehicles  when trying to get money from your bag/purse, when you are at the mall paying for items bought, etc. We forget that on our ATM cards are vital numbers that should be kept private because they can be useful for smart criminals. Hence, the idea is, when at ATM queues or in the public, do not retrieve your card from its safe haven, which could be your wallet, purse or bag until it is your turn to use the ATM machine, you never know who is behind you.

Always keep your account number private: The fact is, really smart criminals do not need your ATM cards to access your account. All they may need is just your account number. First things first, here in Nigeria, like my friend would say, we can send account numbers! Therefore, we should be careful how we share this information. Do not give your account numbers to just anyone e.g often times we receive emails requesting for account numbers.

Be sure you trust whomever you give it to, in fact, do not answer such emails. If you must give it, be sure you know whom you are giving it to and for the right reasons. Also do not give your account number over the phone. While you are screaming your account details over the phone, some smart guy might just be somewhere collecting your information.

Always shield the ATM machine’s typing pad: If you have ever lived in Naija, have you noticed the long queues, especially over the weekends at various ATM terminals? The next person close marks the person in front, he/she does not want to lose his/her position. Due to this long queues, an intending ATM user who might also be a “smart guy” may be able to detect your pin as you are typing. What to do? Though people might laugh at you at the ATM point, never mind them, just move really close to the ATM machine so that your body is blocking the view of others still in queue. As you are well aware, once your pin is known, the security of your account has been compromised. Be smarter, do not fall a victim!

Never discard your receipts: After every real transaction, there is always a receipt. It is the same with all ATM transactions. The machine will always ask you if you want a receipt or not. If you want a receipt, the machine generates one for you. Often times, I see people just tear it into two and toss it in the bin provided by the bank or just on the floor like it carries no information.

My brothers and sisters, take a close look at this receipt if you have one now or the next time you make a transaction, you will notice that the information on it are technical and encoded sort of and you might not be able to decode this but an expert in this field can get important details about your account from this decoded receipt and this can threaten your financial security. Never discard your receipts carelessly. I dare to say they carry all the information needed to break through your financial life.

Secure your PC and networks: Always be sure that your computer is well equipped with a firewall and regularly install operating system and software updates.  This will prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to information on your computer. You could also download fraud protection software and avoid downloading programs from unknown sources.

Shop only on trusted sites online: Shopping online is the way forward right now. As busy as we may be, we always want to shop for something. Be careful when you do your online shopping. Always shop with established online businesses that you can contact in case you have an issue. Do not share personal information unless you understand how it will be used, check payment terms, shipping costs, guidelines and refund/return policies. Then check to be sure the sites are secure by looking for their web addresses especially when using a mobile phone.

Report lost cards quickly: If somehow you lost your ATM card, contact your bank right away and if you suspect any fraudulent act as per how your card got missing, please do not forget to report immediately also. Speed is critical here, otherwise, the criminal might just hurdle away all your fortune. Once you report, your card and account are blocked so no one can use or access them.

Change your pin frequently: You should change your PIN periodically. You know, it is free, there is no charge attached to this. Do not share your pin and do not write it down everywhere. You can have it written in a really safe place.

Also, choose effective pin: Do not use any special date e.g wedding anniversary or DOB as your pin. These can be easily guessed. Make it difficult and be proud to tell anyone,''you can never guess what my ATM card's pin is".


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