The past several weeks, stories of different cases of banking fraud have been trending in Kenya.

People have taken to social media to complain of bank accounts wiped clean by fraudsters. In most of those cases, banks have been blamed for either having a role to play in it through insiders or being complacent about protecting their customers.

The common scam is where fraudsters call unsuspecting account holders and trick them to divulge information that can be used to withdraw money from their bank accounts, sign them up for banking services or replace their SIM cards that are tied to mobile banking.

While these scams are not new in Kenya, the fact that there is an outcry over new cases now and then shows the risk that both banks and customers are exposed to.
The common thread in all these scams of social engineering to trick gullible people and use of insider information to execute the heists.

While a few cases make it to social media, many do not because victims may blame themselves while the banks want to keep that information secret.

Banks in Kenya are not doing enough

The case that raised this conversation online was about somebody who registered for mobile banking and was told by the bank staff to expect a call from the Bank. That was almost like a setup.

The call came after some hours, but it was from fraudsters. The person had already lowered their guard and therefore they offered information as asked. The fact that they had been expecting a call from the bank made them gullible. It was only days later that they realized that their bank account had been wiped clean.

While the bank customers must be careful about divulging sensitive information, banks need to be at the forefront of educating their customers on such risks. If you ask someone to expect a call from the bank, it is necessary to tell that person the number which is expected to call them, and what kind of information would be expected. People must also be educated on the kind of information that they should not divulge as well as the risks of doing so.

When it comes to creating awareness about risks that people face when using bank services, there seems to be more information from random sources online than from the banks themselves. A large demographic of the banked may not have access to such information, and banks should use all channels to educate the public. This is especially the case with the elderly and the tech-averse who are the most challenged when it comes to general security awareness.

Instead of the many billboards telling people about new products and TV ads telling of success stories of banks, how about a focus on educating users?

Better still, the Kenya Bankers Association can require all banks to contribute a certain amount of their revenue to educating the public.

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