Safeguarding oneself against fraud and mobile security threats




By Goldermier Opiyo

With money moving around digitally, there comes potential security risks, breaches, and fraudulent activities, calling for heightened alertness.

Experts project a surge in mobile and cybersecurity fraud through forms like phishing, identity theft, malware, and SIM Swapping, coupled with unauthorized access to mobile money wallet accounts. These types of risks amount to cybercriminals using dubious means to trick their target into sharing personal data and falling victim to data theft, unauthorized transactions, and in some cases, financial loss.

Therefore, it is crucial to adopt proactive measures to safeguard oneself from cyber threats when using mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops among others.

To do this, we need to have heightened sensitivity to what is going on around us and exercise vigilance about who we share our personal information with. This means being wary of unsolicited messages, links, and calls requesting personal information, passwords, and PINs.

Scammers will go out of their way with sophisticated tactics. An important safeguard is to remember that legitimate service providers will never ask you for your confidential details via unsolicited calls or messages.

Case in point, if you receive calls or text messages from persons claiming to be from Airtel Kenya or any other mobile network provider, requesting your ID number, mobile wallet pin, or any other personal detail, end the interaction immediately and use the available channels to report the incident.

If you are an Airtel subscriber, the process is simplified. Just dial USSD code *100# and select option 3: “Kaa chonjo! Report fraud.” In the pop-up menu, enter the fraudulent phone number and click on the “send” button to submit the details to Airtel.

Another option is reporting via Airtel Kenya’s verified social media handles. On X, you can find us at @AIRTEL_KE while on Facebook find us at Airtel Kenya and Instagram, airtel_kenya. Always check to ensure you see the verification badge, then proceed to send a direct message (DM) with the details of the suspect fraudster. Airtel will only call you from the number 0733100000. Beware of fraudulent calls from other numbers claiming to be from Airtel.

If you suspect your mobile line has been compromised or hacked, it is advisable to immediately call Airtel on 100, where you will be assisted in blocking the line.

As a preventive measure, always ensure that your mobile phone, mobile money wallet, and any other devices are protected by a strong and unique password, pattern, biometric element, or PIN. It is also highly recommended to enable two-factor authentication for an added layer of security. This ensures limited access to your devices and gadgets.

You can check on lines registered under your ID information by dialing *106#. If you see a mobile number registered under your ID that you are not aware of, walk into any of our Airtel shops available country wide to deregister that number.

It is also advisable to exercise caution when accessing your mobile money account in public spaces or over Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can intercept data transmitted over unencrypted connections, compromising your personal and financial information. Thus, it is advisable to only utilize trusted and secure networks or consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added protection.

Regular updates of your apps and device software are also crucial to patching any security vulnerabilities. Monitoring your account activity is also important. Pay attention to transaction alerts and promptly report any suspicious transactions or discrepancies to your service provider. This supports the timely mitigation of any potential compromise.

Always be mindful of third-party applications or links promising crazy discounts and offers. Before clicking on them, take a step to verify and authenticate them since hackers can make use of such links to maliciously steal your data.

Lastly, it is paramount that we all take time to educate ourselves and our loved ones about cybersecurity risks and safe habits, making it easier to spread awareness of mobile safety and security best practices with family, friends, and the community as a whole.

Let us not overlook the importance of safeguarding our personal information. By staying vigilant, practicing secure habits, and fostering awareness, we can collectively create a safer digital environment for all.

(Goldermier Opiyo is the Customer Experience Director, Airtel Kenya).

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