Nairobi News

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How to protect your personal information after making digital payments

I’d like to bet that you, dear reader, has at one point in time seen or experienced instances where one received phone calls from strangers who said they got your number after they made a mobile money transaction either at an eatery, transaction shop, clothing store, taxi drivers using online hailing apps, delivery guys on motorcycles and so forth…

For this writer, such a phone call would invoke feelings of having my privacy invaded, harmless swear words muttered under my breath and the threat of reporting the caller for their unprofessionalism in calling kunijulia hali while using their private phone numbers and not one affiliated to the business.

Thankfully, some telecommunication companies said they would look into protecting clients’ privacy when they made digital payments at establishments by having some of the digits in their numbers blocked. But not every establishment uses the platform where this blocking can be done.

Others prefer to receive the monies directly into their private mobile transaction phone numbers – and this becomes the source of their past time – kujulia wateja hali.

Beyond mobile money transactions, one’s financial identity is also available on online payment platforms where they have to key in their debit information such as on video streaming platforms when one subscribes to their monthly services. On some websites, this information is susceptible to being hacked and maliciously used to the disadvantage of the victim.

Financial identity

How then, can one go about protecting their personal information and financial identity when making digital payments?

Nairobi News spoke to Ms Jackline Mwangi, a Nairobi-based financial advisor who said that the best practices individuals should follow to ensure the security of their personal financial information include avoiding public WiFi.

Another way of securing personal financial information, she said, is avoiding the use of unsecure websites such as movie streaming sites that have trojan horse viruses that can phish one’s data from either their phone or computers where the financial information can be gotten.

For mobile money transactions, one should also avoid using the apps while on public WiFi and are advised to use Virtual Private Networks that can distort one’s physical location while they are making online transactions and hackers won’t have easy access to their information.

Passwords and PINS

“Enabling things like two factor authentication, monitoring your financial account balances to see if money is being taken from your account and keeping your software updated helps to prevent unauthorized access to your personal financial information. You should always be alert and actively involved in your matters money. As long as your information is on the internet, it is not safe so you have to find ways to safeguard your data,” Ms Mwangi said.

“Always change your passwords and PINS. In this digital era, one has to be two steps ahead of a scammer. Be alert and think of how you would prevent your information and money from being taken. For ATM cards, the three digit numbers at the back of it- protect them because if they get it, they have access to your bank account. Avoid going around with your ATM card. Leave it at home because it is not everyday that you will use your card You can also hide your bank apps as a function provided by your phone so that someone who swipes your phone cannot easily find and access it,” she explained further.

In regards to receiving phone calls from business staffers, Ms Mwangi advised one to avoid too much communication with the caller and block them. If you give them a chance, in one’s anger, one can divulge details that can cost them because some people are in the business of scamming people and are good at it.

In the event one suspects that their financial identity has been stolen, Ms Mwangi advises, “If you suspect sim-swap, especially if you are on postpaid, immediately, write to the telecommunication to block your phone line.

“People should learn to go through their messages in the event someone is taking advantage of their number and have access to their bank accounts in order to act quick. They should also write to relevant financial institutions to cancel their cards and any requests to change bank details. If one’s identity has been compromised, they should report to the police station because that Occurrence Book number can save their lives when things go bad and limit the damage.”