Online money transfer has become an important part of everyday life in Kenya and across the globe. Digital money transfer services not only support millions of businesses, but also help keep families and friends connected in the country and across borders.
An estimated 3-4 million Kenyans live and work in the diaspora, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A significant number of them use digital money transfer services to send money back home for different reasons, including education and medical costs, gifts and supporting daily household expenses.
The rising popularity of digital money transfer has provided many benefits for customers, including faster speeds, lower costs and enhanced security. Hackers and scammers are, however, always looking for new ways to breach systems and illegally obtain money or information.
Digital money remittance firms invest significantly in their users’ security and safety to manage this threat. Users also have an active role to play in safeguarding their safety and security when sending or receiving money online. Below are four important tips that can keep you safe online:
Do not save passwords/credentials
What is the use of having a strong password if someone can access your account without having to enter the password? Some people have a habit of saving their login credentials on the browser and apps for the sake of fast transactions.
Although the experience might be fast, it puts users at great risk in case the phone or laptop gets into the wrong hands. It doesn’t have to be stolen. Fraud can be engineered by someone we trust.
If forgetting the password is a concern, examine the additional security features you can use to prevent unauthorized access to your devices and apps, including answering security questions, entering patterns or using biometrics. Additionally, changing passwords every month will support a safer digital ecosystem.
Familiarize yourself with the official communication channels
It’s not uncommon for scammers purporting to be from the tech support of a service you regularly use to get in touch with you. In some cases, they inform you that there is something wrong with your recent transactions or account and ask for information to resolve the issue. They typically apply pressure to make the user comply with their wishes.
To avoid becoming a target of such scams, do not provide sensitive data such as your password, your date of birth and other personal information to suspicious people who contact you using unauthorized channels. Avoid clicking on unfamiliar links or responding to strangers on the phone or via email.
Familiarize yourself with the official communication channels of your service providers and avoid communicating through unofficial lines. Report suspected cases of contact through unauthorized channels immediately to your service providers’ official contact email.
Make sure you are using a licensed provider
Only use reputable and licensed payment providers. Go online to the relevant financial industry regulator website to determine if a payment provider you want to use is licensed. As an example, WorldRemit, which is one of the popular digital money transfer services enabling migrants to send cash back home, is a fully licensed international money transfer service.
Avoid offers that are too good to be true
If it sounds too good to be true, avoid it. Unbelievably good offers are a telltale sign of scam. There are several reasons why people use digital payments services – receiving money from friends and relatives abroad is just one of them. You may use a digital payments service to process payments for online work, your online business or to cash in on online investments. In these cases, it’s only natural to look for the most affordable option in order to maximize your value.
When looking for an affordable service to use, be wary of persons or companies that approach you purporting to save you huge transaction costs or foreign exchange fees as long as they handle the transaction for you. If it’s too good to be true, avoid it.
Online safety and security will continue being an important topic as scammers and hackers grow more sophisticated and crafty. Digital money transfer service providers continue to invest in security to combat new technological threats but users also have a role to play in keeping scammers at bay. These tips, which are straightforward but easy to overlook, can help users to safeguard their safety and security when using online money transfer services.
By Ivan Kanyali, Regional Manager East Africa, WorldRemit