It was meant to be a merry Christmas, but right now, I’m on my way to my mother’s village, in a deep forest in Ipetumodu, somewhere in the southwestern part of Nigeria, as I struggle with my loads while manoeuvring the busy Lagos routes in search of the cheapest means of transport.
Guess what? Someone, somewhere, somehow, just used my ATM details to move funds out of my account. Damn!!!
I feel down in the dumps with a sinking feeling. The issue of ATM card fraud is something that has always been on my mind. I actually wanted to blog about it, to give people proper orientation but never had the time.
My spirit warned me to be careful with my ATM card, but my nonchalant attitude finally landed me in the village, about to go join my grandpa in farm, probably would be uprooting cassava since this is harvest season.
You know, at times, I just wonder, this ATM card we carry about is very porous. But I often wave off the thought, maybe I was thinking too far.
Here is the drill:
- Someone can easily get your ATM details (card number, expiry date and CVV), without asking you, especially at POS outlets.
- Someone with an average IQ level of 110 can easily cram your ATM Card details within 30 seconds.
- Most times we don’t even pay attention to POS attendants so they have enough time and space to look thoroughly at your ATM card.
- Scammers won’t be able to use the ATM details on local payment processors since they mostly require card pin and OTP (in some cases).
- For some local payment processors, only pin is required to authorize transactions. And do you know that the POS attendant can easily figure out your pin by studying the movement of your finger as you input it in the POS machine? Are you always cautious while doing that?
- The big deal is, for international payment processors, most of them do not require pin or OTP. Just plug in any correct ATM card details. As long as there’s enough money in the account, the transaction will be authorized. See how easy it is?
And that right there is the scam they pulled on me.
When Tunji, my classmate is primary 3 told me I was stupid, I was angry, I fought him, I didn’t believe. Not until this moment, I realized he was actually right.
With my face like wet weekend, down in the mouth, as I cry over my spilt milk, I feel you all have to be enlightened so you won’t land yourself in this kind of blue situation.
So, let me give you a brief summary of what I feel happened to me:
So out of recklessness, I probably left my ATM card sitting pretty in the hotel room while the cleaner had all the time in the world to write down the details, maybe.
Or, out of greed to eat the fresh burger that just got delivered, I gave my ATM card to the POS dude to do whatever and leave me the hell alone to the burger. Giving him more than enough time to cram my card details.
Or, maybe it was at the filling station, gave the POS attendant my card as I throw away my face while I nod to the sweet rhythm of Kizz Daniel’s album.
Those are the only three possible scenes I can think of. Not too sure how, who, got my card details.
Anyhow, the lucky dude got my card details, he was happy, probably dancing zanku.
He must be a brilliant dude with some good knowledge of financial technology, he went ahead and plugged my ATM card details on some strange subscription website, Unbounce.com, to be precise.
Since the card has an international limit of $1000, he couldn’t go beyond that, so he was smart enough to do it right.
He picked the least plan ($79) and paid for 12 months, summing up to $948 with my ATM details!!!! My card!!! My money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was busy checking Toke Makinwa’s picture on instagram when the debit alert flew in. I was about to wipe it off my screen for better concentration when I came to my senses like “is that not my life savings in one debit alert”?
Sigh! The die is cast. The worms in my stomach were as silent as the dead, guess they were confused too or they already knew they were going to die of hunger.
Here is the twist: I am sure the scammer does not need the unbounce subscription he used my dear card to pay for. And guess what he’s going to do? Request a refund. I am not sure how the platform works and if they would allow him to get a refund to a completely different account. I have been trying to get across to their customer care agent but the dude did not seem to understand properly stated English grammar.
Now, I know you will not cry for me, or cry with me, or give me my money back. I am writing this to show you how life can decide to deal with you if you are careless with your ATM card.
Now, how you can avoid this kind of situation:
- Limit the use of POS machines, and be close to the attendant when you do. Pay cash when possible.
- You can get a separate ATM card for POS transactions. In which you only have limited funds that you can afford to lose without going to village.
- Do not leave your ATM card lying carelessly.
- Do not respond to any text message that says “your ATM is blocked due to BVN… bla bla bla” jargons. They have similar purpose.
I think this is a dumb trick and only extreme fools will fall for it. I know I’m foolish too, but not extremely, at least I wouldn’t fall for this.
- Do not give anyone your ATM card or ATM card details.
I hope you learn from this and be as careful as possible. By the time you see this, I’ll probably be in the village already where there’s no internet connection. You can send me prayers and good wishes. I will be back when I make enough money to survive the city life. And who knows, I can become the greatest cassava farmer alive.
But look at the bright side; They say village girls like boys from the city, sounds so much like an advantage that I’m going to take. I can’t lose all after all.