Avoiding The Pitfalls Of E-Business In Nigeria

by Ndukaku Kenneth Omeruo

In recent times, many people have taken to online business transactions in one way or the other, some even without knowing it are already living a ‘web lifestyle’. People who do not have their businesses online at least use e-mail facilities, do online transactions or get online to search for one information or the other. Everyone is getting online these days.

Starting an online business or taking your bricks-and- mortar business (your offline business) to the internet is a welcomed development in Nigeria. This has been the essence of my articles here to show you how to build and manage your online business effectively so that you leverage on this marketing tool called the internet to boost your business.

E- business transactions are also encouraged to make life a lot easier for everyone. It has become pertinent at this time to enlighten you on some of the things you need to watch out for or avoid while getting online. This will help you avoid the pitfalls of using the internet and ensure you don’t get your fingers burnt in any way.

It is not also news that people, businesses and organisations on a daily bases, are being defrauded in one way or the other through the internet both here in Nigeria and the world over. It is quite evident that internet frauds are still being perpetrated in Nigeria despite the activities of crime agencies fighting against it.

This hydra-headed menace has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society like every other crime. Internet fraud cannot be totally eradicated as long as there this the internet and the technology evolving, but it can be checked and reduced to its minimal.

In the past, one will think that it is only the ‘Oyibos’ that are being defrauded but that’s not true. These days many Nigerians have fallen victim to internet fraudsters even here in Nigeria.

Just recently, some people fell prey and were defrauded of large some of money from their bank accounts through their ATM cards as they filled the details of their bank account in an online form from a ‘phishing’ site (fraudsters site) which looks like the Interswitch site. I got this same email from fraudsters asking me to change my ATM details online but I was quick to know that it was a scam.

Internet fraud is really taking another dimension as technology evolves daily. This is why you need to watch out very carefully whenever you are using the internet. Some of the ways in which unsuspected internet users are being defrauded are:

Through Spam e-mails:

Spam mails are unauthorised, unwanted or unsolicited Commercial e-mails(UCE).Mails which you do not know the sender or you were not expecting. Majority of internet frauds are being perpetrated through spam mails. This is because over 95 percent of internet users have e- mail account and they check on it every time they get on the internet. So Spammers use software to extract email addresses of users online and send them unsolicited e-mails. Some of these scam mails tell you about fake lottery schemes, fake business proposals, fake job opportunities, fake online marketing business and many other ‘formats’. Do not be moved by the ‘sweetness’ of the content especially when you don’t know the sender.

As an individual or a company, you should be very careful about the e-mails you open to read on your computer or system. You should not open every e-mail you see on your inbox especially if the sender is not known. The subject of such emails are usually deceptive and do not reflect the content, so don’t be deceived by that.

VIRUS can be introduced into your system through this means, your system can also be remotely monitored and controlled through a mail which you opened. There have been several cases where vital information of an organisation are compromised simply through spam mails sent to such organisations which they opened on their system or network. If you can check the type of mails you access, you would have checked over 70% of internet fraud.

Through Phishing sites:

Phishing is a situation where a known website is being faked to look exactly like the original website in order to collect vital information from the users of that site, like the ATM case I mentioned earlier, fraudsters go along way using software and other web tools to create sites that look exactly like a known site.

Spam e-mails containing links to the phishing site are being sent to unsuspecting users. The phishing site looks exactly like the original site. Users are asked to fill in details of vital information like their bank account details, password, username etc depending on the type of information the spammers want. And when that happens you would have given vital information to fraudsters through this means which they will use to defraud the person. Any website can be used here, some yahoo users’ e-mail account has being compromised in this way as they put their username and password on a fake yahoo site. People have also lost money in their E-gold account, Paypal account etc through this means.

To avoid being defrauded in this way, do not fill any vital information about yourself especially your bank account details on ANY website on the internet. Avoid checking out websites through a link from your e-mail rather access the website directly from your browser.

Through Unsecured Systems:

Unsecured systems here could mean your database, website, your computer, your server, your phone etc. Several technological developments in the world of e-commerce in Nigeria have made it possible to transact business real time at any point in time and anywhere. From the use of ATM cards, to E-banking, M-banking, M-payment etc. In using these modes of business transaction one should be very careful not to compromise vital information. Users of these products and services should always get the latest information and advice from the service providers themselves.

More high- tech frauds are being done by hackers and the likes. They use different subtle means to gain access to unsecured database or information on your computer or system.

As an individual, be sure of who you give access to your computer or laptop as vital information about you could be compromised in this way. Even when your system breaks down, be sure of the person who is going to fix it, don’t give your system to just anyone, you could lose vital information stored on it.

If you are using the cyber cafes, you should also be careful about the sites or information you access publicly. It is not the best place to do your internet banking or other online transactions. Some cybercafes are not secured, fraudsters can install software on the computers that will trap user’s vital information like usernames, account details, passwords etc.

Job seekers whether for local or foreign job opportunities should also be conscious of where they summit their resumes online, there are also fake online job recruiters who use the information on resumes to possibly defraud job seekers or their families. Always check if the recruiter has a website, every serious recruiting firm should have their own website. If they have, proceed to search about them on Google and also use the web tool at www.alexa.com or www.whois.net to get details and address of the owner of the website, and be sure they are real. You just have to be sure of where you are sending your details online.

It has also been observed that there are also fake foreign exchange programs, conferences, seminars etc online. Just be aware that some of these things happen online and avoid being a prey to them.

As a business, it is very necessary that you secure your database or website with the latest technology from IT experts especially when you are dealing with payment solutions or vital information. Technologies which will suit the uniqueness of our environment should be employed to secure these systems from fraudsters.

Some people have also been defrauded by fake online business teachers or coach in a bid to learn how to start online businesses like the FOREX trading, E-marketing, Affiliate marketing etc. My advice here is for you to do your due diligence before you involve yourself in any such training or transaction, look for experts in these fields who are already making money doing the business and learn from them. This will reduce your chances of failing.

Having shown you some of the pitfalls online, I will want to say here that this is not meant to make you get afraid about e-business rather to advice that you be more careful whenever you get online.

To your business success!

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