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Data update: Email scammers target bank customers

Started by bamalli, January 19, 2011, 12:08:30 PM

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Data update: Email scammers target bank customers
By Bosede Olusola-Obasa    
Customers of banks in Nigeria have been asked to be more discerning and make relevant clarifications on email messages purportedly sent from their banks on the ongoing data update exercise.

The senders of the messages claim to provide a leeway for them to update their bank data and beat the January 31, 2011 deadline within which the Central Bank of Nigeria expects the exercise to have been concluded.

The email messages currently being sent and received by bank customers require customers to fill an attached Customer Update Form and urge them to state their account names and numbers, among other queries on the form.

A copy of such email messages obtained by our correspondent on Thursday was purportedly signed by the Group Managing Director, Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr. Mahmoud Lai Alabi.

It read in part, "Dear valued customer, as you may be aware, the Central Bank of Nigeria has extended the deadline for all customers to update their account details by providing necessary documents for both your old and new account(s) before January 31, 2011.

"These include but not limited to utility bills, documents of identity, passport photograph, change of address, and change of telephone numbers etc. We sincerely appreciate our customers and other stakeholders who volunteered this information to us as this is the only way to put an end to this unprofessional conduct.

"Kindly fill the attached 'Customer Update Form' and submit along with other necessary documents to the customer service officer or the head of operations at any of our branches nationwide."

But Mr. Seun Adesida, who spoke for IB Plc's public relations officer, who is said to be on vacation, told SATURDAY PUNCH on the telephone that the bank did not send such messages out to its customers.

"We did not send such message to customers from Intercontinental Bank. People should be careful," he said.

When the CBN Head of Corporate Affairs, Mohammed Abdullahi, was contacted on the development, he said he was on vacation but sent a reply via a text message.

The text read, "The inter-agency committee, through the CBN, directed that all account holders of banks should update their records with banks to comply with Know Your Customer policy. Once the policy is adequately complied with, it is okay."

Some other bank officials who spoke with SATURDAY PUNCH believe that it is another move by Internet fraudsters to swindle unsuspecting bank customers.

A source at First Bank of Nigeria Plc, who craved anonymity, said that a lot of people did not understand that the directive mainly affected customers who needed to provide their bankers with certain changes in their account data. He said that the CBN had always said that customers should not divulge account details that were meant to be private to them.

"At most First Bank branches, you will find printed notices explaining to bank customers what the directive means to avoid unnecessary tension. Another means by which we get through to individual customers on this has been through text messaging," he said.