How to safeguard the interests of bank customers, after death —Expert

PROMPT notification of banks, about the demise of their customers by their families, immediately such deaths occur, has been recommended as one of the ways to protect the interests of the deceased customers beyond their lifetimes.

A finance expert, Mr. Olaoluwa Akinyode, stated this, while speaking with Brands & Marketing, on the vulnerability of customers in the nation’s financial sector to fraud, and the need for a public enlightenment.

He stated that such notification is needed to prevent unauthorized access to the account of the customer following his demise.

Akinyode, who retired from one of the nation’ first generation banks two years ago, after over two decades in the bank, added that a prompt notification would enable the bank to, immediately, freeze the deceased customer’s account, pending when the funds will be properly discharged by administrators.

Besides, he argued, prompt notifications will reduce fraudulent activities on the deceased customers’ accounts and ensure funds are discharged according to stipulated laws.

He attributed the increasing cases of frauds in the nation’s financial sector, to the penchant for customers in the sector to easily let down their guards.

“For instance, some still do not know that a prompt notice to a bank by the family of a deceased customer, is necessary, immediately such death occurs. They still don’t know that it is a way of preventing unauthorized access to the account of the late customer; a way of  safeguarding the interest of the late customer beyond his lifetime. If you don’t acquaint the bank with such information, you leave the deceased’s account vulnerable,” he stated.

He added that though  stricter legislations, and the advent of regulatory agencies, saddled with the responsibilities of protecting the interests of the Nigerian consumers, had enhanced consumerism in this part of the world, he however argued  that the nation’s consumers still have a huge role to play, if the incidents of fraud in the sector are to be reduced to the barest minimum.

Citing the  report released by the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) for 2018, on fraud in the nation’s financial sector,  Akinyode described it as ‘frightening’ a situation where over 17,600  bank customers were said to have  lost a whooping N1.9 billion  to fraudsters during the year.

He expressed the belief that such development, in a sector that thrives on trust, and seen as the bedrock of the national economy, presents clear and present danger, if such acts are not nipped in the bud.

Akinyode also expressed dismay that in spite of efforts at enlightening customers in the sector on the danger of sending cash to bank for deposit through third parties or bank representatives, a lot of bank customers still indulge in the act.

“Handling your cash yourself would reduce the risk of fraud by individuals with ulterior motives,” he added.

Akinyode also counseled on the need to insist on obtaining evidence of deposit upon cash lodgement, and ensure such evidence is kept. He also stressed the need for the banking public to always confirm their deposit details before carrying out a new transaction in the bank.

He also attributed most of the frauds perpertrated on customers’ accounts to failure on the part of such customers to promptly notify their banks upon loss or theft of sensitive items, such as ATM card, SIM card or phones, linked to their accounts, and compromise of bank account details.

“My experience as a banker has shown clearly that  the easiest way for an outsider to have access to your account is when you lose any of these sensitive items and you refused to inform your bank of such loss.

“Customers should always endeavour to notify their banks, immediately, whenever they notice any suspicious or fraudulent activities on their accounts. They should also immediately notify their banks upon the loss of bank account token, phone number or sim card that is linked to one’s bank account,” he added.

For him,  a seemingly harmless compromise of an email address, linked to one’s bank accountshould also be reported, since such could give fraudsters a leeway to access the customer’s account.

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