Guarding Yourself against Identity Theft By: Aimakhu Hilda Itohan


As if caste in a spell, I watched as a young man left the queue at the ATM stand, to claim the card of the last person who had withdrawn and forgotten her card.

We all kept quiet as he told the security officer that he knows the owner, and in his own words, “She is my neighbor, and she is very careless.” Behind me, I heard someone whisper, “Why not wait until the owner comes for it?” Looking at others whispering to themselves, I concluded within me that no one really cared, we are all self-centered; the mind-your-business set of persons.


I was distracted again as I saw a plumy lady in her late 30s, look all confused shouting, “Please I forgot my ATM card.” The security officer walked up to her and asked for any means of identification, luckily enough she had one; claimed her card and left.

Almost immediately, all eyes were on the young man who had claimed to know the card’s owner. He in turn looked so quickly and confessed he didn’t know this woman and had thought it was another one (lady) that left.

Something chilled in me as I realized the lady would have become a victim of identity theft if the card had been given to the so-called neighbor.

This scenario brought me back to the landmark on what identity theft is and how to avoid being victimized.

Identity theft is a concept affiliated to impersonation of one’s identity. It involves everything ranging from stolen passports, medical theft, creating fake social network profiles, to the use of fraudulent messages requesting for your bank details.

This act isn’t a new criminal activity, it’s been around for years, and of cause improved methods of getting people‘s information for fraud keeps growing by the day. In fact, identity theft is as old as technology itself.

In Nigeria today, there are basically two known and commonly means of identity theft:

  1. The use of social media network to scam people and
  2. The use of account information or an update of one’s personal banking details through phone calls, text messages and emails. Note that these are all scams.

It is very necessary to always verify with your bank if you are sent these messages or if you get a call directly from these scammers, remember your bank will never ask you for your bank details.

Being smart might not be enough to protect you from these fraudsters, to be alert should be the key or watch word.

As you go about your daily activities, be careful with whom you share your personal details; even your best friend might get tempted too.  Also learn not to give out your private information on social media. As technology improves, so do these fraudsters improve in their strategies. Therefore, it is advisable to carry out research on how well you can protect your information.

Lastly, report any suspicious case of identity theft, credit card fraud and phishing to the appropriate authority, so that the culprits would be prosecuted under the provisions of the criminal code, penal code and the ATF Act 2006.

Be vigilant and use wisdom; anybody can be a victim of identity theft if caution is thrown to the wind.



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