Internet fraud has become one of the many things associated with the Nigerian population. It has become evident that the government needs to embark on a serious approach and strategy to deal with this menace. The association of internet fraud with Nigeria has caused losses for many Nigerian citizens who have been denied job opportunities, business opportunities, or visas because of the fear of internet scams. In spite of the many other achievements of Nigerians in fields such as movies, music, medicine, sports, internet fraud has given Nigeria a bad reputation as a country filled with thieves scheming on how to rip innocent people of their hard-earned cash to them. The internet offers a world of benefits. Topmost of which is the ease of sending and receiving information. However, there are other uses for which the internet has not been helpful.
Below are some of the internet scams that occur:
Phishing and Spoofing
Phishing (FISH-ing): This is a situation where an online scammer duplicates a legitimate website in an attempt to trick the user into entering sensitive information that can be used for further illegal activities.
Spoofing: Spoofing is when an online scammer sends a mail that looks like that from a legitimate company in the hope that you will respond with sensitive information. Below are tips to avoid online traps which can in turn help curb internet scams in Nigeria:
Check the Web Address of popular and legitimate websites: Learn to cross-check for the URLs of communication channels of the website used to reach out to you ensuring they match with the legitimate website. The web address for the phishing site may contain the address of the legitimate website but would also often contain codes to reroute the traffic to a false website.
You must always be careful when using your mail or entering your personal information into sites. Ensure you only open emails, links, and attachments from trustworthy sources.
Protect your computer
There are various software, firewalls, spam filters, and other anti-virus programs that are able to protect your system from viruses. You must also update these programs regularly to keep them functional. Below are important software that can be used to protect your computer:
Anti-spam software: Helps prevent spam and junk email from entering your inbox, this, in turn, helps to guard against phishing emails
Firewall: Firewall software helps to prevent unauthorized access to your computer through viruses and malware
Anti-spyware software: This helps to block the installation of spyware used to monitor or control your computer without your consent.
Keep your Passwords Secret
It is important that you keep the passwords to your accounts, whether social media or bank accounts safe. Also, do not leave any documents that contain access to your financial data in an unsecured area. Use only strong passwords, combining letters, numbers and special characters when possible. It is a good habit to change your passwords regularly for better protection. Consider using encryption on your network and change your wireless network default password as soon as you can.
Beware of phishing emails
Be cautious whenever you receive emails that require clicking links to verify or change your account. In most cases, the links included in the email install malicious software (also called Malware) on your computer or device and can be used to obtain your personal information as well as access your email.
Know who’s asking
As a general rule, never share your personal information, especially social security or tax ID numbers, account numbers, or login and password information via email or text. Remember that financial institutions do not emails or text messages that require your personal information. Be sure you know who is demanding your information before responding.
If you think you have been a victim of an online scam, having provided private data such as account numbers, PINS, or passwords, then you must notify your banks or Account Management Company immediately.
Long term measures of Curbing Internet Scam in Nigeria
Over the years, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been doing its best to deal with internet fraud. However, the problem of internet fraud in Nigeria cannot be solved by occasionally arresting some online scammers but by addressing the major issues causing this menace. These are:
High level of Poverty
With so much poverty in the land, one can see why many young people go into criminal activities to make ends meet. In a bid to live a particular dream, some Nigerians resort to illegal online activities, robbing people of their hard-earned money. Where there is such a high level of poverty, the disenfranchised will most likely resort to criminal activities. If the minimum wage were increased to meet the financial needs of people, online criminal acts will be brought to a minimal level. In a bid to tackle the problem of internet scams in Nigeria, the government should improve the economy and make life easier for the populace so that it can witness a reduction in the rate of internet scams.
High rate of Unemployment
Another problem that has contributed to the growth of Internet fraud is unemployment. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 16 million Nigerians were unemployed during the third quarter of 2017. A long-term approach of dealing with internet fraud is by addressing the unemployment rate in the country. With more productive jobs in hand for the Nigerian youths, many will not think about scamming people online or will desist from such acts if given the opportunity.
In order to properly deal with the issue of internet fraud, there needs to be a reorientation for many Nigerians who have lost priorities and do not value hard work. Many Nigerian youths believe in get rich quick schemes and have an excessively materialistic mindset which needs to be corrected. With these kinds of mindsets, some Nigerians are not willing to take on jobs even if they were given the opportunity because they have seen get-rich-quick schemes promoted on the media. The government, through ministries and other non-governmental organizations, can start national reorientation programs to help teach young ones the importance and value of hard work.
By taking the right steps as mentioned above consistently, individuals can avoid falling victim to online scams while curbing them to a minimal level to save Nigeria’s reputation.