Ayomikun Babatunde had always thought it was impossible for him to fall victim of internet fraud but when he received a mail recently notifying him of his bank’s intention to suspend his account for his failure to conclude the bank verification number (BVN) process, he complied with the directive without realising it was a big scam. Before then he had already obtained a BVN but yet to link it with the account domiciled in the bank that purportedly sent him the mail. Pronto, he followed the link and provided the details required to complete the process. But that was his doom. Before realising it was a scam, Babatunde had lost all his life’s savings to the fraudsters before dawn.
Babatunde is just one of the several bank account holders who have fallen victims to fraudsters on account of BVN. At the expiration of the October 31 deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) bank customers who were yet to obtain their BVN or failed to link their BVN to their accounts in other banks were denied access to such accounts. Till date some account holders still have issues with BVN, particularly failure to link the number to all their accounts. Scammers are still exploiting this situation to defraud unsuspecting bank customers.
Millions of bank customers are bombarded daily with telephone calls, unsolicited mails and text messages alerting them about their banks’ decision to deactivate or suspend their bank accounts due to errors relating to the BVN process. Mails from these fraudsters and scammers usually ask recipients to click a link to complete an online form in order to link their BVN to their other accounts or update their BVN to avoid deactivation.
However, it has been revealed that these accounts suspension or deactivation notices are only intended to lure bank account holders to reveal their personal bank details which the scammers require to defraud them. In many instances, these scammers target bank customers on Fridays or during public holidays when bank workers are not available to stop or block their fraudulent act should the account holder get suspicious and place a call to the bank.
How to protect yourself
Beware of these scams. If you receive a customized email in the name of your bank with a link for you to follow and provide your account details, remember the link could take you to a cloned site where your details will be harvested for fraudulent purposes. Your bank will not ask you to provide your bank’s biometric details to commence or complete the BVN process. No bank or any of its officials will call you on phone or send an email requesting you to follow a link to update, validate your account or link your BVN to your account.
Please note that BVN registration cannot be processed online as the banks require account holders to present themselves physically to have their fingerprints, photo and other biometric data taken inside the banking hall. Any process contrary to this is fraudulent and when you click on any link provided, you’ll be doing so at your own risk.
What You Need to Know
The Central Bank of Nigeria through the Bankers’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria on February 14, 2014, launched a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry tagged Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The BVN is intended to provide greater security to account holders and the entire banking system. According to the apex bank, “The purpose of the project is to use biometric information as a means of first identifying and verifying all individuals that have account(s) in any Nigerian bank and consequently, as a means of authenticating customer’s identity at point of transactions; To provide a uniform industrially accepted unique identity for Bank Customers; To authenticate transactions without the use of cards using only biometric features and PIN; and Identification of blacklisted customers.
Benefits of BVN
• The Central Bank of Nigeria has enumerated the following as some of the benefits of BVN
• BVN gives a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian Banking Industry (not peculiar to one Bank)
• Customers Bank Accounts are protected from unauthorized access
• It will address issues of identity theft, thus reduce exposure to fraud
• The BVN will enhance the Banking Industry chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers
• Reduce queue in Banking Halls
• Standardized efficiency of Banking operations
• The Customers unique BVN is accepted as a means of identification across ALL Nigerian Banks.